Head injuries due to falls, car accidents, bicycle accidents, and athletic mishaps can result in irreparable brain damage. That's why prevention is always the best medicine.

When the brain is injured, there is always some damage that cannot be treated or repaired. Prevention of traumatic brain injury involves taking steps to minimize that damage in the event of an accident. That means taking extra safety precautions, in and outside of your home.

  • Wear your seatbelt. Motor vehicle accidents account for more than half of all traumatic brain injuries. Seatbelts cut your risk of injuries that result from being thrown around or out of the vehicle. Make sure the shoulder belt fits across the middle of your chest, away from your throat and neck, and that the lap belt fits across your hips, below your abdomen.
  • Adjust your car's headrest according to your height, so it is properly aligned with the back of your head. That way, if you are in an accident, there is less chance of suffering a spinal cord injury or a broken neck.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorcycle or participating in contact sports. Although helmets don't always prevent concussions, they cushion the head and soften the blow to the brain when there is an accident and can help prevent skull fractures and other injuries.
  • Check the fit of your helmet.  If your helmet is loose or poorly fitted, it will not help protect you if you fall or receive a blow to the head. Make sure helmets fit tight around the head and sit level with Y straps falling on either side of the ears. The distance between the helmet and your eyebrows should be the width of two fingers. The strap should fit closely under your jaw but still allow you to open your mouth to a full yawn.
  • Don't drink when you are operating a motor vehicle of any kind. If your judgment is impaired for any reason, you are at higher risk of being involved in an accident.
  • Review your medicine side effects. Many prescription and non-prescription medications can cause drowsiness or dizziness, increasing your chances of having a fall or accident. Be especially mindful if you are taking a combination of drugs. If you are unsure of side effects, speak to a pharmacist or doctor.
  • Be extra careful if you take blood-thinning medications. Even a slight fall can result in internal bleeding that can cause brain injury. If you experience any type of blow to the head, monitor for symptoms such as dizziness, headache, visual problems, or droopy eyelids and get help immediately if any of these symptoms develop.
  • Take steps to make your home accident-proof, especially in your kitchen, bathroom, or any other area where there is water or a slick floor surface or stairway that can increase the chances of slipping and falling. Check handrails on stairways  and replace loose throw rugs with non-slip mats. For older adults, grab bars inside and just outside the bathtub or shower and near the toilet can help prevent falls.
  • Get your eyes checked. Uncorrected vision problems can result in accidental injury. In addition, make sure there is good lighting in every area of the home.
  • Stay fit. Exercise strengthens your leg muscles and helps improve balance, both of which help decrease the likelihood of falling.



Centers for Disease Control: Traumatic Brain Injury--Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fall Risks for Older Adults

University of Minnesota: Are All Bike Helmets Created Equal?

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Occupant Protection