In a hazardous workplace and playing sports, to enjoying a ride on horse, a bicycle, or an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), wearing a helmet can potentially save your life in the event of an incident and can be your best defense in preventing a brain injury. One major fall, crash, or flip could lead to a hospital trip. To bring a greater awareness to this issue, Brain Injury Awareness Month is being celebrated throughout the month of March.
Did you know brain injuries are the leading cause of disability and death in children and adolescents? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two age groups at the greatest risk for brain injury are those between the ages of 0-4 and 15-19. Among those ages 0 to 19, each year an average of 62,000 children sustain brain injuries requiring hospitalization as a result of motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports injuries, physical abuse, and other causes. A staggering 564,000 children are seen in hospital emergency departments for brain injury and released. For children ages 0 to 14, brain injuries result in an estimated 2,685 deaths, 37,000 hospitalizations, and 435,000 emergency department visits. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, brain injuries can account for the following impairments:
- Physical: speech, vision, hearing, motor coordination, headaches, paresis or paralysis, spasticity of muscles, seizure disorders, balance, and fatigue.
- Cognitive: short term memory deficits, impaired concentration, slowness of thinking, limited attention span, impairments of perception, communication skills, planning, writing, reading, and judgement.
- Emotional: mood swings, denial, self-centeredness, anxiety, depression, lowered self-esteem, restlessness, lack of motivation, and difficulty controlling emotions.
Brain injuries can be detrimental to children as their young brain is still developing. Although some may believe a younger brain can recover sooner and a child can bounce back easier than an adult, research has proved that is not the case. Children are impacted more devastatingly than an injury of the same severity on a mature adult.
Progressive Agriculture Safety Days lends a proactive approach to educating about preventing brain injuries by getting youth participants to understand the importance of a properly fitted helmet for various sport and recreational activities. Participants learn that when it comes to helmets, proper selection, fit, care, and use for the task at hand are all important considerations. Through fun, engaging, age-appropriate hands-on activities and demonstrations using items like eggs, cantaloupe, watermelon, and even a gelatin brain mold to truly understand the fragile nature of the human brain. We weave this important message in curriculum focused on animal safety, ATV/UTV safety, and bicycle safety.
Just as helmets differ, so are brain injuries and no two are the same. Brain injuries are complex, vary greatly from person to person, and the effects depend on the injuries cause, location, and severity. The Brain Injury Association of America’s “Change Your Mind” campaign also seeks to raise awareness on de-stigmatizing brain injury through outreach within the brain injury community, empowering those who have survived brain injury and their caregivers, and promoting the many types of support that are available to people living with brain injury. To learn more about this neurological disease, visit www.biausa.org.
This safety message was brought to you by the Progressive Agriculture Safety Days, recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. For additional safety information or details about hosting, volunteering, or attending a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in 2021 and text the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321.
Photos: During an activity called, “Stop! Don’t Use Your Head,” Progressive Agriculture Safety Day participants learn first-hand about the fragile nature of the brain. We reinforce the cantaloupe portrays your head and what can happen if it hits the hard ground or pavement unprotected in the event of a fall from a bicycle, horse, or an ATV/UTV. The cantaloupe is dropped once in a helmet and another time without a helmet.
Written By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation