Tag Archives: prevention

Think A-Head Redesigned and Revamped, Coming to a School Near You

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Students get ready for prom. Do they know the dangers of drinking or drugging and driving?

Did you know that the brain contains 100,000 miles worth of blood vessels–enough to circle the earth four times?  The brain contains 100 billion neurons, which are cells, known as gray matter, that process all of the information in your brain. Each neuron is connected to other neurons by up to 40,000 synapses. This means that the number of connections in the brain outnumbers the number of stars in the universe.

Did you know that the brain is made up of 75% water, and uses 20% of the oxygen in your body at any given time?

What a powerful organ…one worthy of protecting, since it houses so much information and capability.  However, brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in young adults and teenagers. The recorded instance of concussion, car crashes and substance use by this group is increasing. So, what can be done to enlighten students and give them knowledge, allowing them to make better choices for their own safety?

The Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts has a solution. Think A-Head is a dynamic, school-based program that has been teaching students to avoid risk-taking behavior and develop healthy living habits for nearly 20 years. This curriculum is tailored to the age of the students and to the specific needs of the school and its community. The program offers a core curriculum with amendable activities based around the following issues:

  • Brain Injury: General knowledge of the brain, brain injury, high-risk groups and behaviors
  • Drugs and alcohol: Breaking down drugs to include depressants, stimulants, inhalants and prescription pills and the affect on the teenage body and brain
  • Impaired driving: How alcohol affects driving, the dangers of impaired driving and the increased risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Seatbelts: The benefits of using them and the detriments of not using them; statistics on usage and common misconceptions about seatbelts
  • Concussions: Focusing on sports concussions, signs and symptoms, and information on what to do in the case of a suspected concussion; the roles of coaches, student athletes, teachers and school systems in this process


You may have experienced this program in your school before. However, BIA-MA has completely revamped the program to be a more effective educational and preventative tool. Your students will experience new presentations with interactive question-and-answer sessions to make sure they are really consuming the information. In addition, a brain injury survivor speaker will be on hand to discuss their experiences with brain injury and to also pose situational questions to the students. When reality is standing before them, how do they respond?

Thanks to a generous gift from the Sarah W. Rollins Charitable Trust, BIA-MA is able to offer this redesigned Think A-Head program at a discounted fee of $75 for the first program and $25 for each additional program held at your school on the same day. Think A-Head aims to inform and engage students and supply them with applicable knowledge so that they can make more informed choices during a most impressionable time in their lives.

Science has proven that neurons continue to develop throughout an individual’s life, at least in some parts of the brain. In addition, fresh cells are actively involved in the formation of memory. This organ should be protected, as it serves as the “engine room” or “control room” for all of your body’s faculties. An individual’s choices affect the brain on a regular basis.

To bring the Think A-Head program to your school in Massachusetts, visit the webpage today to book a program (or more!) and learn more about how educating students about the risks and impact of brain injury helps them make better choices. To book your program immediately, click here.

6th Annual BJ Williams Walk and Run Road Race is happening September 14th!

Bj and Karen from Mix 931

BJ Williams and Mix 93.1 FM’s Karen during the 5th Annual BJ Williams Road Race.

BJ Williams is the Manager of the Prevention Department  & Court-related Programs at BIA-MA, as well as a survivor of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and founder of the Annual BJ Williams Walk & Run Road Race. Today in his first guest-blogging appearance, he will share how his life changed following his brain injury and why he felt it necessary to start an annual athletic event to raise awareness of brain injury.

Since I was three years old, I dedicated and lived my life to become a professional hockey player.  At age 16 I was fortunate enough to attend the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, NY for high school.  Following my high school graduation, I spent time in Italy and in Boston playing hockey.  On July 28, 2005 before I was able to reach my lifelong goal, I made a decision that would have lifelong consequences.

During the summer of 2005 I landed a construction job working with a good friend.  On that sunny Thursday July 28 afternoon, my friend and I were driving home on the Massachusetts Turnpike.  My friend lost control of the Ford F-350 truck we were in, and being that I chose not to wear my seatbelt, I was instantly ejected from the passenger window of the vehicle.

When I awoke two days later at Baystate Medical Center I learned that everything I spent my life working for–my desire to be a professional hockey player–was gone.  During the days that followed I discovered the extent of my injuries.  I am deaf in my right ear, I’ve lost the ability to smell and taste, and I endured multiple skin grafts and suffered four skull fractures that needed a lot of time to fully heal.

The biggest injury was hanging up my skates forever….

My recovery from July 28, 2005 to today has not been easy.  From day 1 of the recovery I knew I had to take a different approach to life.  Late one night after hearing the story about Dick and Rick Hoyt, I began taking part in road races, triathlons, marathons and even Ironman events in an attempt to motivate myself to feel that my life was far from being over.

Since running in my first marathon in February 2007, I’ve craved the motivation even more.  The following year was the first annual BJ Williams Walk & Run Road Race.  The mission of the event was never to bring thousands of runners, but just to bring individuals to come and compete with the intention of supporting the prevention of brain injuries. In addition, I wanted runners and walkers who supported those individuals living with brain injuries and who wanted to raise funds for an injury that affects so many people in Massachusetts and around the world.

Runners take off during the 5th Annual Race

Runners take off during the 5th Annual Race

Since July 28, 2005 I set out to dedicate my life and career to preventing brain injuries and supporting survivors in any way that I can.  On September 14, 2013, the 6th Annual BJ Williams Walk & Run Road Race will once again host runners and walkers of all abilities to raise funds and awareness for brain injury. The only way the event will stop is if we reach the mark of raising $100,000.  Even then it will probably keep it going!

The 6th Annual BJ Williams Walk and Run Road Race will be on Saturday, September 14, 2013 in Longmeadow, Mass.  The event will feature a 5K Walk and a 5K Road Race, all to raise money for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts and the Joe Andruzzi Foundation! To register now, click here. ‘Like’ the Annual BJ Williams Walk and Run Road Race on Facebook!

Prevent Brain Injury With Bicycle Safety Tips

When the warm weather comes upon us, it’s natural to want to get outside, enjoy the weather and get active! Bike riding is a favorite past time for those all over the country, but can be especially nice for those who live in quaint beach towns or close to biking trails. Whether you plan to ride in your neighborhood or while on vacation, safety should always be a top priority no matter where you ride. Consider these tips to help prevent brain injury before you head out for a bike ride.

1. Wear a helmet. Although helmets do not guarantee you won’t sustain a concussion or brain injury, it does help prevent your skull from cracking if you do have an accident. It can also save your life. According to a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, cyclists who died of a head injury were three times as likely not to be wearing  a helmet compared to those who died of other injuries.

2. Avoid rocky, challenging terrain. Steer clear of areas filled with rocks, potholes and other hazards when riding your bike. Instead, look for level ground to ride on.

3. Be cautious of traffic.  Avoid windy roads, areas with a lot of traffic and watch for cars around you. This article on BicycleSafe.com provides a number of different situations you may find yourself in when riding near cars and how to avoid accidents.

4. Avoid talking on the phone or listening to music while riding your bike, especially when riding around traffic. If you’re listening to music and focused on something else, you won’t be listening for horns or other traffic noises which could prevent accidents and save your life.

5. Avoid riding at night, but if you do, use a light and wear reflective clothing. Be aware that drivers may not see you – reflective clothing will help them to notice you and be more cautious driving close to you.

6. Check to make sure your helmet fits properly. See below for tips.


For more information and tips on bike safety, watch the video from our webcast series below!

Tips for Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury

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.

BIA-MA Top 5 New Year’s Safety Resolutions for Drivers

By BIA-MA Manager of Prevention and Court-related Programs BJ Williams

No matter how good we believe we are at driving, bad habits are easy to pick up. Whether you’re in a rush to get to work, multitasking or focusing on the radio station rather than driving, taking your eyes off the road for even a second can put yourself and others in danger.

Make 2013 the year of change and put an end to dangerous driving behaviors. Let’s be positive and start making changes today!

I resolve to:

1. Always buckle up. Seat belts save over 12,000 lives a year by protecting passengers from hitting hard vehicle surfaces, other passengers or being ejected from the vehicle in a crash. Seatbelts are 99.9% effective at keeping you inside the car during a crash.
2. Not use my cell phone behind the wheel. In 2011, 25% of drivers in the United States reported that they talk on their cell phones while driving “regularly or fairly often.” Additionally, 9% of drivers in the United States reported texting or e-mailing “regularly or fairly often” while driving. Instead, focus on the road and put the phone down or pull over to use it!
3. Never drink and drive! Over 10,000 people die in drunk-driving car crashes each year. In 2010, 211 children were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Out of those 211 deaths, 131 or 62% were riding with the drunk driver. If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a designated driver or call a cab to get home.
4. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists! Pedestrians make up 12% of all motor vehicle deaths each year and bicyclists make up about 2%. Drivers need to be especially diligent around crosswalks and remember to look both ways for bicyclists even on one-way streets.
5. Maintain my vehicle and tires! Performing regular tire checks and routine maintenance will help to ensure your vehicle stays in optimal condition. You should take at least five minutes each month to check your tires. This is a measure that can effectively protect you and decrease the number of avoidable breakdowns and crashes.

Stay Safe This New Year’s Eve: Schedule A Safe Ride Home

New Year’s Eve is a time for parties, dancing and of course, spending time with those you love. Unfortunately, New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. According to AAA, 122 people were killed in crashes on New Year’s Day in 2012 and a little over half of those crashes involved a drunk driver. If you plan to be out celebrating tonight, stay safe and have a designated driver or take public transportation to ensure you get home safely. While having a designated driver may seem like common sense to most, some party-goers still don’t arrange safe transportation ahead of time or forget to plan a second form of safe transportation in case plans fall through.

The MBTA schedule for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is available here. The MBTA will not collect fares after 8 p.m. Additionally, there are an endless number of cab companies that can take you home safely. Do some research ahead of time and save a few companies’ phone numbers to ensure you have a safe way home in case any other plans fall through.

Additionally, some local businesses are stepping up to provide safe transportation for those out and about on New Year’s. Here are some of the companies and organizations offering safe transportation for party-goers in a few areas of Massachusetts.

Central Massachusetts:

Arnie’s 24-Hour Towing on Route 20 in North Oxford is offering to tow cars for a reduced rate in Oxford and Charlton from 10 p.m. Dec. 31 to 2:00 a.m. on Jan. 1.


Yellow Cab in Springfield is once again offering free cab rides through Dial-a-Ride, a program co-sponsored by United Way of Pioneer Valley, Williams Distributing and Rock 102/Lazer 99.3. Cab rides will be available from 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. on Jan. 1. Cab drivers will only take passengers to the address listed on their driver’s license. To schedule a ride, call 413-739-9999.

The Law Firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is also offering free cab rides to party-goers in Springfield from 10 p.m. Dec. 31 to 2 a.m. Jan. 1 by calling *LAW (*529) on a mobile phone or 1-800-529-1010.The Law Firm is also providing free cab rides to those in Burlington, Vermont and in areas of New York City. All locations are listed on their website.

Cape Cod:

Operation Safe Ride Home is available to Yarmouth residents again this year. Any resident needing a safe ride home from any liquor establishment in Yarmouth will be able to receive a free ride from 8 p.m. Dec. 31 to 3 a.m. Jan. 1 by calling Town Taxi of Cape Cod at  508-775-5555.