Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Prevention
The best way to protect yourself from traumatic brain injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Follow the tips below to help reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury:
- Motor Vehicle Safety – One of the best ways to prevent a motor vehicle related TBI is to slow down and drive at safe speeds. In addition to slowing down, always use a seat belt. Buckling up every time you get in a car, no matter what seating position you are in, reduces the risk of head injuries greatly in a car accident. Safety belts are designed to keep passengers from being thrown around inside and tossed out of the vehicle in a crash. Frontal and side air bags can also reduce the risk of head injuries. Back seat passengers who are not restrained can be violently thrown into the other passengers, possibly causing serious or even fatal head injuries to others. Drivers should not text or operate cell phones or GPS devices while the car is in motion. Taking your attention away from the road for even seconds can lead to serious accidents.
- Car Seat Safety – If used and installed properly, car seats can protect children from serious head injuries in an accident. Choose a safety seat based on your child’s age and size. The seat should follow guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics and be used on every trip.
- Bicycle Safety – More than one-third of those hospitalized after a bicycle accident have a TBI. Children are at particularly high risk for bicycle-related injuries. Head injury is the leading cause of bicycle-related death, and using a helmet is the most effective way to reduce these injuries and fatalities. A bicycle helmet that is fitted properly can reduce the risk of TBI by 88 percent. Other cycling safety tips include: obeying all traffic signs and signals, using hand signals, riding on the correct side of the road with traffic, yielding to pedestrians and stop at intersections and crosswalks.
- Helmets – Should also be worn when riding a motorcycle, skateboard, snowmobile, or four-wheel vehicles. Head protection should also be worn when playing contact sports, baseball, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, or skating to prevent brain injury.
- Alcohol and drug use – Refrain from driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription medications that can impair the ability to drive.
- Prevent falls – The following tips can help to prevent falls that can lead to brain injury in older adults as they move around the house: Remove area rugs, pick up toys and clutter off the floor and stairs, and use nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower.
- Playing team sports – Involvement in sports can put a child at risk for concussions. A concussion is a type of brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head that causes the brain to move back and forth quickly. Limit sports-related concussions by taking the following precautions: Do not return to the game if you have a suspected concussion until after you see your doctor. Parents and coaches should know the signs and symptoms of a concussion and should instruct athletes to report any hits to the head even if they feel fine.
Knowing the risk factors for stroke and adopting a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to prevent a stroke. Many of the strategies used in the prevention of strokes are the same as strategies used to prevent heart disease in general. Some treatable conditions that can be linked to stroke are listed below:
Hypertension (high blood pressure): Keeping your blood pressure under control is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your stroke risk. See your doctor annually and monitor your blood pressure throughout the year. Stress management, weight maintenance, exercise, and reducing the amount of salt and alcohol you eat and drink are some ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure. If you have already been diagnosed with hypertension, in addition to lifestyle changes, taking your hypertension medications as prescribed may prevent a stroke.
- Controlling diabetes – Diabetes can be managed with medication, exercise, diet, and weight control. Left uncontrolled diabetes can lead to stroke.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – If your snoring is waking you up at night, your partner complains about your loud snoring, and/or you feel fatigued during the day you may have OSA. OSA can lead to hypertension which puts you at a greater risk for stroke. If OSA is detected by your doctor, treatment options include: giving you oxygen at night, having you wear a small device in your mouth, or surgery.
- Lower cholesterol – Eating less saturated fat, trans-fats and food high in cholesterol, may reduce the plaques (fatty deposits) in your arteries. This plaque build-up can lead to stroke. If you can’t control your cholesterol with dietary changes, see your doctor who may prescribe medications to lower your cholesterol.
- Quit smoking – Quitting tobacco use reduces your risk of stroke, as smoking raises the risk of stroke for both smokers and nonsmokers that are exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Healthy weight maintenance – Packing on extra pounds can contribute to other stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Losing as little as 10 pounds may lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
- Drinking alcohol in moderation – Alcohol can be both a preventative measure and risk factor for stroke. Consuming alcohol in heavy doses increases your risk of high blood pressure, hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. On the other hand, consumption of small to moderate amounts of alcohol can decrease blood clotting tendencies and help prevent ischemic stroke.
- Getting regular exercise – Aerobic exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by lowering blood pressure, reducing weight, increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, controlling diabetes, reducing stress, and improving the health of your blood vessels and heart. Aim to work up to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise — such as jogging, walking, swimming, or cycling.
- Avoiding narcotics – Certain drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamines, have been established as risk factors for a stroke. Cocaine is said to reduce blood flow and cause narrowing of arteries.