Imagine not being able to remember how to tie your shoe, speak in a complete sentence or even losing your ability to walk. For the 5.3 million Americans living with long-term disability as a result of a brain or spinal cord injury these are just some of the many challenges they face on a daily basis. Whether due to a fall, motor-vehicle accident, sports or combat related injury, act of violence or other traumatic event, brain or spinal cord injuries can happen in an instant and have life-altering consequences for survivors and their families.
According to BrainandSpinalCord.org, a new knowledge-base for brain and spinal cord injury survivors, approximately 1.5 million Americans per year sustain a brain injury – more than breast cancer and HIV combined. In addition, there are nearly 12,000 new spinal cord injuries occurring each year and as many as 400,000 Americans currently living with these injuries – most between the ages of 16 and 30.
The numbers are staggering and like many other types of injury or health concerns, brain and spinal cord injuries can often be prevented through education. At NeuroRestorative, we make it a priority to help promote further education, awareness and prevention of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries by supporting and partnering with many organizations and prevention programs across the country.
In Carbondale, IL, NeuroRestorative operates a local chapter of ThinkFirst, a national injury prevention foundation focused on children and teen populations who are at high-risk for brain and spinal cord injuries. According to ThinkFirst, each year approximately one million children suffer a head injury and more than 51% of traumatic brain injuries among teens are the result of a car crash. Using ThinkFirst’s methodology representatives of NeuroRestorative Carbondale have given hundreds of presentations at schools and driver’s education classes, health fairs, summer camps, and community organizations – reaching more than 20,000 young people across Illinois. Our presentations focus on helping students understand their risks, limit their exposure to dangerous situations and make safer choices.
“Education and awareness play a vital role in reducing the number of preventable injuries among teens,” said Robin Ray, Vice President of Operations for NeuroRestorative’s Central Region. “Our staff presenters provide students with clinical expertise and are often joined by program participants who can share their personal story and how their lives have changed as a result of their injury.”
NeuroRestorative also educates our program participants and families as well as local communities on the risks of sports-related injuries. Located just outside of Little Rock, NeuroRestorative Timber Ridge, which is the largest residential pediatric brain injury facility in the country, supports many children who have experienced a brain injury while participating in sports or other recreational activities. At Timber Ridge we integrate education into each child’s therapeutic programs and services and partner with families and public education departments to put a focus recognizing concussions in sports and the importance of early treatment.
“Educating young athletes and their families as well as school systems and other recreational programs about the importance of treating sports concussions directly after they occur is critical to preventing more serious complications,” says Roger Carrillo, Vice President of Business Development for NeuroRestorative. “Parents, teachers and coaches need to be trained in prevention techniques as well as the signs and symptoms of a brain injury, including concussions.”
Many of NeuroRestorative’s current and former program participants have also become advocates for injury prevention. Katie Mathews, a former program participant at NeuroRestorative Avalon Park, who recently reached her goal of independent living, will present at the upcoming in Independence Expo in Orlando, Florida. Katie Mathews who was paralyzed from the result of distracted driving is trying to raise awareness in Florida on the dangers of using cell phones and other multimedia devices while operating motor vehicles. She has also been making headlines as an advocate for tougher restrictions and working towards her next goal of raising awareness around the need for laws that prohibit texting while driving in Florida.
“I’m so grateful that we can reach out to students, health professionals and communities about the importance of education to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries,” says Bill Duffy, Chief Operating Officer of NeuroRestorative. “By sharing powerful stories, cutting-edge research and our own clinical expertise I hope we can help children, teens and adults stay safe and reduce their risk of traumatic injuries.”