In recognition of March as National Brain Injury Awareness Month, Dr. Nirav R. Shah, state health commissioner, is encouraging all New Yorkers to take safety precautions to prevent brain injuries.
Brain injuries are injuries to the brain or skull caused by an external force such as a strike or impact that can result in permanent disability.
In New York, an average of 385 incidents of traumatic brain injury occur daily, resulting in emergency room treatment or inpatient hospitalization. A total of 140,000 New Yorkers are injured annually - nearly three times the seating capacity of Yankee Stadium.
"Brain injuries can cause serious, long-lasting problems, but can be avoided by following basic prevention techniques," Shah said. "Following safety rules and wearing a helmet when participating in a contact sport or riding a bicycle or motorcycle greatly reduces the risk of brain injury."
During the observance of Brain Injury Awareness Month, the state Health Department and the Brain Injury Association of New York State are encouraging New Yorkers to learn more about brain injuries and how to prevent them. The agencies are partners in a five-year, $1.25 million dollar grant funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.
"Brain injury education and prevention is a priority," said Judith Avner, Brain Injury Association of New York State executive director. "Concussion, is one type of brain injury that may cause serious brain injury, and may occur anywhere, including in a person's backyard."
Shah encouraged New Yorkers to follow prevention techniques to avoid brain injury including:
Proper use of protective equipment and safe playing techniques in sports and recreation activities;
The use of properly installed infant and child car seats and seat belts;
Eliminating tripping hazards in the home; and
For seniors, regular review of medications by a physician and routine exercise to help maintain or improve balance and coordination to prevent falls that may result in brain injury.