Wearing a helmet can ‘protect your grape’
Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Thien Trinh, a corpsman with Naval Hospital Pensacola’s Neurology Department, places a helmet on Knight Moore, 5, to check if it fits properly. Sailors from Naval Hospital Pensacola’s Neurology Department visited a local elementary school in Pensacola, Florida to promote helmet safety. (U.S. Navy photo by Jason Bortz)
PENSACOLA, Fla. — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 26,000 children and adolescents are treated in emergency departments annually for traumatic brain injuries.
The good news is that many head related injuries can be prevented by simply wearing a properly fitted helmet.
To help create awareness of the importance of wearing a helmet, Naval Hospital Pensacola’s Neurology Department visited a local school in Pensacola to encourage children to wear helmets when bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading or during other activities where head injuries can occur.
“It’s important to educate children on the reasons for wearing a helmet,” said Navy Lt. Joseph Cahill, neurologist, Naval Hospital Pensacola. “Children are often reluctant to wear helmets because they are worried about how they look wearing them or for various other reasons. It’s important to start educating them and their parents at a young age.”
While at the school, the Sailors explained the importance of wearing a helmet and showed the children and their parents how to ensure a helmet fits properly. Naval Hospital Pensacola gave away more than 60 helmets, but the children had to first take a pledge that they promised to wear the helmets.
“This was a great opportunity to teach children about helmet safety and that it’s ‘cool’ to wear one,” said Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Melissa Clayton, a corpsman with NHP’s Neurology Department. “The children loved getting the helmets and the parents were excited about them as well.”
As a neurologist, Cahill has seen the horrific results that can occur from TBIs. A TBI is the result of a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. The severity of such an injury may range from ‘mild’ – a brief change in mental status or consciousness – to ‘severe,’ which could cause an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.
Common symptoms for TBIs include concussions, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, memory problems and mood swings. In severe cases, a TBI can lead to a coma and even death. Individuals who suffer severe injuries often require long-term rehabilitation that can have a dramatic impact on their quality of life and their family.
“It doesn’t take a lot of force to cause an injury to the brain,” said Cahill. “Simply falling off of a bicycle at slow speeds can cause a serious injury to the head if a helmet is not worn, but the helmet must fit properly and be worn correctly. The helmet should fit snuggly, and a helmet with the strap not connected won’t help during a fall. We may only have one chance to protect our ‘grape’ in life.”
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