Be smart & safe – wear a helmet

July 30, 2012 by cpehrson

“It’s uncomfortable; it’s hot; I look silly in one; I’m not going to fall, so I don’t need one; It will mess up my hair!”

You may have heard these reasons for not wearing a helmet while riding a bike, scooter or motorcycle, roller skating, or rock climbing.  In reality, there are  no good excuses for not wearing protective gear when you are involved in potentially risky activities.

Trauma to the brain can result even with a small impact. This can cause permanent injury to the brain, resulting in physical, behavioral, and cognitive damage, and even death.

Utah Law requires anyone under the age of 17 to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle or a low-power cycle such as mopeds, scooters, and various other 2-wheeled cycles.  Studies have shown that wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of a serious brain injury and death because during a fall or collision, most of the impact energy is absorbed by the helmet, rather than your head and brain.

One of our own CPD colleagues, Dr. Mark Innocenti, knows first hand the value of wearing a helmet.  Here is his story in his own words, taken from a letter to the editor he sent to the Logan Herald Journal:

While riding in Green Canyon on the evening of June 22, I was in a bike accident that required a helicopter evacuation. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who were involved in assisting me post-crash…. I also want to highlight the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. I am an experienced bicycle rider and have ridden Green Canyon more times than I can easily count. This crash happened quickly and unexpectedly; just a small mistake. My helmet was shattered. The major ribs of the helmet all were broken and the outside severely beaten. I never lost consciousness. My prognosis is good; a few months in a back/neck brace and return to normal activities. Without the helmet I would have had a traumatic brain injury. Be smart; wear a helmet!

We are so thankful that Mark was wearing a helmet.  We echo his words:  Be smart!  Wear a helmet!  Have a safe summer!

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Improving TBI detection and services

September 15, 2011 by cpehrson

Fall brings with it the start of a new school year. It also brings the start of a new sports season for youth and young children.

Any sport puts players at risk for injuries, but concussions and traumatic brain injuries are the most serious and potentially long lasting types.  One of the CPD’s partner agencies , the Brain Injury Association of Utah, lists the five leading sports or recreational activities which account for concussions as bicycling football, basketball, playground activities, and soccer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18.

This year, youth players in Utah will have better protection from TBIs than ever before.  Utah legislators recognized the great risk of sport-related injuries and signed House Bill 204Protection  of Athletes with Head Injuries– into law (March 2011).

This law places the safety of players first and foremost above all other concerns.

HB 204 requires all youth sports organizations to put into place policies and procedures for players suspected of experiencing a brain injury/concussion. It requires high school athletes and anyone under 18 who suffers a concussion to get medical clearance in order to continue playing.

The concern over TBIs and their potential life altering impact does not stop with high school students.

A concussion research project that is starting at USU this year will help keep university athletes safe and healthy.  The project will assess all players before the playing season to determine a baseline.  If a concussion/head injury occurs during play, the athlete will be evaluated to best determine when he or she is ready to return to game play using a balance machine that tests balance, spatial orientation, and vision.

For the past decade, the CPD has worked to build public awareness about the dangers of concussions/TBIs.  Through federally funded projects, they have partnered with state agencies to coordinate statewide efforts to foster the awareness of TBIs, and improve the community services and supports for victims.

Currently, the CPD’s Utah Implementation Partnership Grant is focusing on improving the statewide TBI services for two distinct populations in Utah, young children, ages birth to 4 years old, and service members and veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Becoming aware of the signs and symptoms of TBIs is essential in getting needed medical services.  By placing the safety of people first and foremost above all other concerns, TBI victims will be identified sooner and receive prompt treatment.

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Brown Bag Discussion: TBI awareness improved in Utah

July 19, 2011 by cpehrson

The CPD has a long history of advocating for those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries.

CPD staff found out just how much of an impact the CPD has had on TBI services in Utah at their latest Brown Bag Discussion this month.

Since 2001, the CPD has actively worked with other state partners on the prevention of  TBIs,  as well as training providers to recognize the symptoms and improve access to the services for victims of TBIs in Utah.

The latest Utah TBI Partnership Implementation Grant focuses on improving the statewide TBI services for two distinct populations in Utah, young children, ages birth to 4 years old, and service members and veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Statewide assessments on the services currently available to these two groups was conducted.  Both providers and parents were surveyed to determine their current knowledge of TBI symptoms and treatment.  From the results of the surveys, a Statewide Strategic Action Plan was developed for Utah.  Resource and training materials were also developed that will improve identification of TBIs and  appropriate interventions for individuals, families, providers, and the general public.

CPD staff members, Sue Dubois, recently appointed Utah TBI Coordinator, and Ginger Payant, Community TBI Coordinator, shared that through the work that they are doing, Utah will increase community TBI services and supports, and individuals with TBI and their families will be able to meet their needs more easily.

If you are interested in learning more information about the TBI efforts in Utah, please contact Sue Dubois.

The Utah TBI Partnership Implementation Grant is coordinated through the Utah Department of Health.




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Keep your egg yolk intact–celebrate Brain Injury awareness month

March 25, 2011 by cpehrson

Picture an egg yolk. This is your brain.

Now give that egg a couple of good hard shakes, slamming it up against the sides of the egg. The shell remains intact, but the yolk has been scrambled.

This could be your brain after a traumatic brain injury.

Celebrate Brain Injury Awareness Month by keeping your egg yolk intact.

A recent article in Utah’s Daily Herald discusses the importance of protecting you and your children from brain injury.  This is especially critical among young people because their brains are still developing and thus, are more likely to have long-term damage.

With the passing of the Utah House Bill 204 this past legislative session, concern over sports related TBIs has been addressed. This is a great improvement and sends a message that brain injuries are traumatic and need to be watched over carefully.

The Utah Traumatic Brain Injury Implementation Partnership Grant at the CPD is currently investigating the occurrence of brain injuries in children between the ages of birth to four years of age in order to identify gaps in service and to identify unmet parent needs related to their child’s injury and treatment.  Data gathered from the Early Childhood Parent/Guardian Survey will guide efforts to develop education and training activities for professionals and staff working in early childhood programs that could improve access to care and support services.

One of the CPD’s primary responsibilities is to help expand the capacity of the Medical Home Portal to provide additional information about TBI diagnosis and treatment of young children (ages birth-4) for physicians, health care professionals and families, including a self-study Continuing Medical Education (CME) module for physicians.  The Medical Home Portal currently offers content on a variety of diagnoses and conditions, including Traumatic Brain Injury.  There are over 3,000 national and state/local resources, including support groups, informational web sites, and community and professional services integrated into the content in a user-friendly way.

Helpful links:

The Brain Injury Association of Utah (801) 484-2240 or (800) 281-8442.  Utah’s Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) affiliate offers information and referral services for individuals with brain injury, their families and for professionals. BIAU has a library of information and co- sponsors an annual Family and Professionals conference on topics related to the field of brain injury.

The Brain Injury Association of America 1-800-444-6443, has a nationwide network of more than 40 chartered state affiliates and hundreds of local chapters and support groups. The BIAA’s website has information for consumers and professionals concerning brain injury consequences, resources and prevention.  For additional information, please contact Ginger Payant at 435-797-6927 or email her at

TBI Resources on the CPD web site offers further listings of TBI links that offer information, resources, and support to people with brain injuries.

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Heads up on brain injury

March 14, 2011 by cpehrson

Written by Ginger Payant, CPD Project Coordinator for the Utah Traumatic Brain Injury Implementation Partnership Grant.

The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.

This quote by Thomas A. Edison illustrates the importance of the brain.  The human brain deserves to be protected, defended and nourished, and yet people seem to disregard and even defy the importance of the brain.

Adults demonstrate this by allowing themselves and their children to ride a bike, skateboard, ski, or play contact sports without wearing a helmet.  Parents often support their child in going back into the game too soon after receiving a concussion because of the importance that is put on “winning the game” or being “tough” or  “being a man.”

We all need to become more aware of the serious effects a blow to the head can have and how to prevent brain injuries from occurring in the first place.

The Utah Legislature took a step toward protecting young brains earlier this month when the Protection of Athletes with Head Injuries bill passed the Utah Legislature. This bill requires amateur sports organizations to have a head injury policy and to remove a child from play if a head injury is suspected. It also requires medical clearance before the child returns to the playing field or court.

This year, in recognition of March Brain Injury Awareness Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging school professionals, coaches, parents, and athletes to learn the steps they can take to reduce the risk for concussion among youths participating in sports.

An estimated 1.7 million traumatic brain injury (TBI)–related deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits are expected to occur in the United States each year. Moreover, an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year.

What is a concussion? A concussion is a type of TBI caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist inside the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

Why is a concussion so dangerous? Many young athletes accept the risk for injury as one of the many challenges of participating in sports. Others might be unaware that even a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious. Although most athletes with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some will have symptoms that last for days, or even weeks. The effects of a more serious concussion can last for months or longer. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first (usually within a short period) can be very dangerous and can slow recovery or increase the chances for long-term problems. A repeat concussion can even be fatal.

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) along with the Brain Injury Association of Utah (BIAU) and its network of more than 40 chartered state affiliates have joined forces to bring national and local attention to the fact that a concussion is a brain injury. Visit the TBI Awareness section of the BIAA website for 2011 awareness materials as well as additional facts about brain injury.

The CDC web site offers many resources about preventing, recognizing, and responding to brain injuries of all kinds, including sports-related concussions.

The lives of children and adults with brain injury are forever changed.  They are often misunderstood, misdiagnosed and are left to deal with their new reality in isolation. There is much we can do to protect our brain and promote brain injury awareness.

The CPD is actively involved in providing resources and training about TBI through its Utah Traumatic Brain Injury Implementation Partnership Grant.

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