Every year, approximately 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury. As the weather begins to become more pleasant and the temperature rises, people want to get fresh air and enjoy springtime activities. However, traumatic brain injury can be caused by a number of things, including falls, bicycle, skateboarding and ATV accidents. Before you get involved in some of these fun activities, consider these tips to stay safe and prevent traumatic brain injury.
- Head injury is the leading cause of bicycle deaths, so always make sure to wear a proper-fitting helmet. Consult a helmet chart to find the right size. It won’t be as effective if you wear it too snug or too loose, so make sure it fits tightly around your chin.
- Obey traffic laws. Never drive against the flow of traffic and always use hand signals when turning.
- Avoid riding at night. If you must ride at night, be sure to wear reflective gear and have a white headlight in the front, and a red light in the back.
- Wear brightly-colored clothing so that you are more visible to motor vehicle operators.
- Be sure to maintain your bicycle by checking the tires and brakes to make sure they are in working order.
- Wear protective gear. Helmets reduce the risk of brain injury by 90 percent, and are the most important item. Knee and elbow pads should be worn as well.
- Ride only on even surfaces – the smallest object can cause the biggest fall. Avoid potholes, uneven terrain and congested pedestrian areas.
- Practice falling to get used to it. Try using a mattress or a grassy area outside to practice.
- There are several different types of skateboards available. Be sure to use the type that best fits your style, skill level and terrain.
- Always wear an approved safety helmet.
- Follow the laws and regulations of your area. A Massachusetts law from 2010 bans children under 14 from operating ATVs.
- Only go on trails specifically designed for ATV use. Going off trail can reveal obstructions or uneven ground in your path that can cause the ATV to overturn.
- Never listen to headphones or ear buds – it’s important to have the use of all your senses when riding.
For more safety tips or facts about helmets, visit www.biama.org or call the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts (BIA-MA) at 800-242-0030. BIA-MA can provide fact cards and brochures on helmets, sports concussion and brain injury.