March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. More than 5 million Americans are living with disabilities related to traumatic brain injuries. TBI can be caused by a jolt, blow or bump to the head -- or by a penetrating head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal function.

BCH's Trauma Outreach and Injury Prevention Coordinator Joan DePuy, RN, has been doing her part to educate our community to prevent brain injuries.

On February 24 DePuy attended a health fair at Douglass Elementary School in Boulder. "My station presented education on injury prevention education on and concussion awareness to 80 second graders by demonstrating proper bike helmet fits, and discussing the importance of wearing helmets at all times during specific activities, i.e. biking, roller blading, skiing, etc."

"We focused on, how to ThinkFirst™ and keep our brain safe while enjoying many of the fun outdoor activities Colorado affords us," DePuy said.

Children got to see and touch life-like models of a skull and brain and watch a melon drop activity that drove home the importance of wearing a bike helmet. (Thanks to parent Jocelyn Miller for the help!)

TBI contributes to about 30 percent of all U.S. injury deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 2.5 million children and adults suffer traumatic brain injuries each year. Of those, about 2.2 million are treated in emergency departments, and about 280,000 are hospitalized.

On Feb. 6, DePuy appeared with Jade Roch Von Rochsburg, a "ThinkFirst Victim for Injury Prevention" at Nederland Middle/High School. Jade shared her story of her traumatic brain injury with the students. Jade was only 17 when her car crashed during a snowstorm. She wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was ejected out of her car.

She suffered a TBI and now speaks to middle and high school students about “thinking first” and making good choices, such as, when to drive, wearing a seatbelt and never allowing ourselves to be distracted by talking on the phone or texting.

"It is truly an honor to work with Jade," DePuy said.

Concussion Symptoms

Physical signs and symptoms of concussion may include loss of consciousness, a state of being dazed, difficulty concentrating, headache, fuzzy or blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light and/or sound, moodiness, balance problems, or feeling tired or lack of energy.

While a loss of consciousness might occur, it’s more common not to happen. In the event of loss of consciousness, 911 needs to be called. Regardless of severity, it’s best to follow up with your doctor and school nurse.

DePuy teaches "Recognize, Report and Rest" when it comes to head injuries.

Leading causes of concussion and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) include falls, being hit by an object, motor vehicle crashes, unrestrained auto-passengers sports and recreation activities, and assaults.

Some symptoms appear right away, while others might not be noticed for days or months after injury. Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it’s often harder for them to let others know how they feel.

If you or someone you know suffer a head injury, come to the Emergency Department at Foothills Hospital. As the first Level II trauma center in Boulder County, BCH has the sophisticated resources and expertise readily available to treat seriously injured patients.