Opinion

Time to take care of your brain

Summer has arrived in the north!  It’s a time of increased outdoor activities and fun, but don’t let your fun turn into tragedy.

Researchers estimate that 90 per cent of brain injuries are predictable and preventable.  Damage to the brain can rarely be repaired and life after a brain injury is never the same.

Thirty per cent of all traumatic brain injuries are sustained by children and youth – many of them while participating in sports and recreational activities.

Boys are affected four times more frequently than girls.  Encourage children to be active, but ensure they get proper training, wear the gear, and are able to effectively navigate risks.

Here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe while still enjoying summer activities:

While inline skating and skateboarding be sure to wear protective gear such as helmets, wrist guards, and elbow/knee pads at all times.  Injuries are particularly common in novice skaters and those performing tricks.

Children under 5 years old should not be using a skateboard and those between the ages of 5-10 should always be supervised.  Avoid skating on city streets, public sidewalks, and parking lots.

If you lose your balance, crouch down on the skateboard to reduce the height of the fall and try to land on the fleshy parts of the body.  Try to relax during a fall and to roll rather than absorbing the fall through your arms.  Those with uncorrected hearing or vision deficits should skate only in protected environments.

Diving accounts for 10 per cent of all admissions to spinal injury units.

Avoid the use of alcohol and drugs in aquatic environments.  As a rule, the depth of the water should be twice the height of the diver.

The hazards of diving in unknown waters are extreme.  Never dive into unfamiliar bodies of water.  Always check for submerged objects like rocks, tree trunks and other debris before diving.  Don’t dive or swim alone.

Always go into the water feet first the first time.  Never dive through objects such as inner tubes.  Don’t slide down waterslides head first. Keep your hands together and arms extended above the head throughout the dive to protect the head and neck against impact in the event the diver strikes the bottom.

Soccer is an excellent way to keep fit and have fun.  Be sure to learn the proper technique of heading the ball.  Use plastic coated balls and replace them once their water resistant qualities are lost.

ThinkFirst Foundation of Canada recommends not permitting heading until age 10-12 years.  Keep the playing surface well maintained.  Fill in holes in the field and reseed bare spots.  Adequately pad all goalposts and secure them to the ground.

All terrain vehicles (ATVs) are powerful machines that require strength and skill to operate, so it makes sense to start teaching kids to ride early - right?  No.

The truth is that ATVs cause more permanent disabilities and death than most other sports or recreational activities.  Children and youth lack the knowledge, development, and skills to safely operate these vehicles.

Wait until you are 16 to ride.  Limit engine output.  Wear a helmet.  Don’t ride on roads and highways.  Always ride sober.  Take an ATV training program.

While boating, wear a personal floatation device (PFD) at all times.

Do not consume alcohol while boating to maintain proper judgment, reaction time, and proper body temperature.

Before boating, ensure the boat is in good working condition, check the weather forecast, and assign someone to be the lookout for possible obstructions in the water.

As of September 2009, all boaters in Canada must have a pleasure craft operator card, commonly known as a Canadian Boating Licence.  It’s the law.

Be active and enjoy your summer safely so you can enjoy another summer again next year.

Information gathered from www.thinkfirst.ca and provided courtesy of the Northern Brain Injury Association, an advocacy, support and information group.

The group has placed information on brain injuries and concussions in various places around town.

A display has also been put up at the Terrace Public Library.

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