Prevention & Resources for At-Risk Populations

The only real cure for a brain injury is prevention.

Newborns to 4-year-olds, adolescents 15-19, and adults 75 and older are most likely to have a traumatic brain injury-related emergency room visit or hospitalization. Active duty military and veterans are also at greater risk of these types of injuries.

Here are some basic safety tips for everyone:

  • Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle or engaging in similar activities.

Infants, Children and Youth

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome happens when an infant or small child is violently shaken, creating a motion that injures the head and spine. This can cause life threatening injuries, brain damage or death.

Awareness of the causes and dangers of shaking is the key element in preventing shaken baby syndrome. The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome offers these suggestions for parents and caregivers caring for a crying baby:

  • Make sure the baby is not hungry or doesn’t need to be burped or changed.
  • Sing or talk to the baby.
  • Offer the baby a pacifier.
  • Hold the baby against your chest and gently massage them.
  • Rock, walk or dance with the baby.
  • Take the baby for a ride in a stroller or car ride.
  • Call someone and take a break.
  • Check for signs of illness and call your doctor if the baby seems ill.

Seatbelt Safety

Buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt.

Children under 12 years old should never ride in the front seat of a car with an airbag.

Children should start using a booster seat when they outgrow their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 pounds). They should continue to ride in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly, typically when they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

To learn more about child passenger safety, see the Safe Riders webpage.

Helmet Safety

Make sure your child wears a helmet when:

  • Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
  • Playing a contact sport.
  • Using skates or riding a skateboard.
  • Batting and running bases in baseball or softball.
  • Riding a horse.
  • Skiing or snowboarding.

Helmets should fit properly and be appropriate for the child and the activity. To learn more about helmets, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HEADS UP program website.

Safety at home and at play

Choose playgrounds with soft under-surfaces that will cushion a fall.

Make living areas safer for children by locking up household cleaners, installing window guards, and using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

Helping Students with Brain Injuries Return to School and Play

Brain injuries that happen in children under 5 years old or in teenagers can affect their ability to learn. These injuries might be caused by car accidents, sports injuries, falls, child abuse, neglect or other blows to the head. High fevers, choking, near-drowning or other things causing the brain to be deprived of oxygen also can cause brain injuries.

The Texas Education Agency and the Low Incidence Statewide Leadership have collaborated to provide Guidelines for Educating Students with Traumatic Brain Injuries/Concussions. This resource for educators and families provides information on the process for reentry to school as well as information on cognitive, behavioral and physical changes that can happen and possible accommodations and strategies to help the student in their recovery.

The University Interscholastic League provides guidance on the prevention, treatment and oversight of concussions affecting student athletes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HEADS UP program has a variety of resources for youth, teachers, parents, school nurses, and other school professionals on preventing concussions and students returning to school and returning to sports and activities after a brain injury. It includes details on support services, fact and information sheets, classroom tips and much more.

Older Adults

Safeguard against falls by:

  • Wearing shoes with good support and non-slip soles.
  • Using nonslip mats in the bathtub.
  • Installing grab bars in the tub or shower.
  • Installing handrails on stairways.
  • Improving lighting throughout the home.
  • Maintaining a regular physical activity program, if your doctor agrees, to improve lower body strength and balance.
  • Review medications and side effects annually or when medication is added or changed. Advise your doctor immediately if side effects change.
  • Have your vision checked annually.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries program has a variety of resources for medical providers, family, friends and older adults on preventing falls. It includes details on support services, fact and information sheets, and much more.

Active duty military, veterans and their families

TexVet: Partners Across Texas
The collaborative effort of federal, state and local organizations that focuses on bringing our military members and those who care about them a wealth of resources. The resources identified through TexVet are meant for anyone serving or has served in any branch of the military, as well as the others who care about a service member.

Texas Veterans Portal
Connects veterans, their families and caregivers to the benefits and services earned through their military service. This site also includes a link to download The Veterans App.

Texas Veterans Commission
Provides claims assistance, employment services and education benefits.

Department of Veterans Affairs
A list and links to VA administration, medical centers, outpatient clinics and vet centers in Texas.

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
Serve active duty military, their dependents and veterans with traumatic brain injury through state-of-the-art medical care, innovative clinical research initiatives and educational programs.

Texas Workforce Commission: Texas Veterans Leadership Program
A Texas Workforce Commission resource and referral network that connects returning veterans with the resources and tools they need to lead productive lives.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission Mental Health Program for Veterans
Provides peer-to-peer counseling to service members, veterans and their families through local mental health authorities and local behavioral health authorities across the state.

To learn more, contact the Office of Acquired Brain Injury at 512-706-7191 or by email the OABI.