Are you aware that young adults and children are among the most susceptible to brain injuries? These injuries can drastically impact a growing mind’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. Each year, there are an estimated 89,000 new traumatic brain injury cases – and it’s one of the leading causes of death in this country, while also being one of the most under researched. This Youth Day, as part of our “Together. Be Informed” campaign, we’re inviting you to stand in the spirit of resilience to raise all-important awareness about brain injury prevention and coping strategies.
Because brain injuries are close to home: Traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of disability in South Africa, stemming from road accidents, falls, sports, and violence. So let’s dive into the most common causes affecting South Africa’s youth and explore methods to keep children and young adults safe:
Brain Injury Causes
Accidents: It’s terrifying, yet likely unsurprising, that road accidents top the chart of brain injury causes. With road traffic injuries predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030, leaving many injured or disabled, it’s essential to recognize and reduce this risk.
Sports: Physical contact, speed, or height in sports and recreational activities often lead to head trauma. Whether it’s concussions from rugby, contusions from soccer, or fractures from martial arts, brain injuries linger in every arena.
Violence: Lastly, violence plays a significant part too. From interpersonal altercations to collective uprisings, brain injuries result from both direct and indirect trauma, leaving everyone involved or witnessing, vulnerable to severe psychological consequences.
Brain Injury Prevention
To battle brain injury, consider these prevention tips:
- Always wear helmets and seatbelts to reduce the risk of head injuries and fatalities.
- Avoid using alcohol, drugs, phones, or devices while driving to prevent impaired judgment and dangerous distractions.
- Follow road safety rules to encourage a culture of cooperative driving and walking.
- De-escalate or distance yourself from any potential violence, and seek help if facing abuse or harassment.
- Consider your skill level when engaging in sports or recreational activities, while also employing necessary protective gear during play.
- Heed coaches, trainers, or instructors’ advice, and prioritize warming up, cooling down, and adequate rest to avoid injuries during physical activities.
- And, finally, if you’re a parent, empower your children by teaching them vital road safety practices.
Key signs and symptoms of brain injuries include
- Loss of consciousness or memory
- Headaches or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light or blurred vision
- Confusion or disorientation
- Communication difficulties
- Physical numbness or weakness
- Behavior or mood changes
Though brain injuries can leave lasting effects, they can be prevented with proper awareness and precautions. If you or someone you know has experienced a brain injury, know that support is available through organizations like Headway Gauteng. So this Youth Day, let’s celebrate and honor the spirit of resilience and unity by nurturing ourselves and our communities.
Support the cause by donating to Headway Gauteng at www.headwaygauteng.co.za, or share your brain injury story with the hashtags: #TBI #traumaticbraininjury and #TogetherBeInformed and tag @headwaygauteng on Instagram or Facebook.