Be Head Smart: St. Mary’s Shares Tips on Preventing Head Injuries

For National Brain Injury Awareness Month St. Mary’s Neuro Rehabilitation program educates families on brain injury prevention

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month and the Neuro Rehabilitation and Traumatic Brain Injury team at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children is sharing information with patients and their families on ways to prevent traumatic brain injuries, the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults.

St. Mary’s Neuro Rehabilitation and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program opened over twenty years ago and treats children from infancy to 18 years of age with cognitive and physical disabilities related to an injury to the brain from an accident, illness, infection, cancer, or stroke. The program is known for its leading-edge programs and innovative approaches and it works toward reintegrating children back into the community while focusing on meeting patients’ goals to improve or manage their conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention 2.4 million people in the U.S sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, resulting in 52,000 deaths. The two age groups at greatest risk for TBI are age 0-4 and 15-19. With this in mind, the St. Mary’s team is working to promote numerous preventative steps that can be taken by children, parents, sports coaches, and others to avoid serious brain injuries.

Preventive steps include:

• Effective use of seatbelts and car seats. Most car seats are not installed properly – make sure yours are.
• Employ helmets where appropriate (e.g., biking, skating/boarding, skiing, etc.). and make sure helmets are fitted properly.
• Teach and use safe sports techniques.
• Remember small children can suffer brain injuries or drown in very small amounts of water. Supervision of children in bathing and water sports situations is key!
• Managing sports concussions. Knowing when it is ok to return to play is critical to preventing reoccurring and serious brain injuries. It’s better to miss one game than the rest of the season.

• Make living areas safer for children by:
-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;
-Keeping stairs clear of clutter;
-Securing rugs and using rubber mats in bathtubs; and
-Not allowing children to play on fire escapes or on other unsafe platforms.

For more information on what you can do to help prevent brain injuries, please visit or call 718-281-8890.