How to prevent brain injuries

Pamela Egan Practical Practitioner


By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE



How to Prevent Brain Injuries



With spring and summer upon us, activities often become more physical. Brain injuries are caused by a bump or blow to the head.

These injuries sometimes are called concussions or traumatic brain injuries and can range from mild to severe.

Most mild brain injuries cause no harm. But sometimes even mild brain injuries can cause serious, long-lasting problems. The best way to protect yourself and your family from brain injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place. People with a concussion need to be seen by a doctor. Most people with concussions are treated in an emergency department. Some people must stay in the hospital overnight for further treatment.

Sometimes the clinician may do a CT scan of the brain or do other tests to help diagnose your injuries. Even if the brain injury doesn’t show up on these tests, you may still have a concussion.

Your clinician will send you home with important instructions to follow. For example, a clinician may ask someone to wake you up every few hours during the first night and day after your injury.

It is important to tell the clinician if you are taking any medicines – prescription, over-the-counter, or natural remedies – or if you are drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs.

“Blood thinners” (anticoagulant drugs) or aspirin, may increase your chances of complications. If it’s all right with your doctor, you may take acetaminiophen. In rare cases, along with a concussion, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain and crowd the brain against the skull. Go to the emergency room right away if, after a blow or jolt to the head, you have any of these danger signs:

Headaches that get worse, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination, persistent vomiting, cannot be awakened, have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other, have convulsions or seizures, have slurred speech, are getting more and more confused, restless or agitated. Also, a child that: won’t stop crying, can’t be consoled, won’t nurse or eat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Brain Injury Association of America have offered some tips to reduce the chances that you or your family members will have a brain injury.

Tips for preventing brain injuries:

  • Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.

  • Always buckle your child into a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child’s height, weight and age) in the car.

  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets when riding a bike, motorcycle or an all-terrain vehicle; when playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey or boxing; when using in-line skates or riding a skateboard; when batting and running bases in baseball or softball; when riding a horse; or when skiing or snowboarding.

  • Avoid falls in the home by: Using a step stool or a reaching tool with a grab bar to reach objects on high shelves; installing handrails on stairways; installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around; removing tripping hazards such as small area rugs and loose electrical cords; using non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors; putting grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower; maintaining a regular exercise program to improve strength, balance, and coordination; and seeing an eye doctor regularly for a vision check to help lower the risk of falling.

  • Keep firearms stored unloaded in a locked cabinet or safe. Store bullets in a separate secured location.


More information about brain injury is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at or the Brain Injury Association National Help Line at 1-800-444-6443. > Health Articles > Disease Prevention