New program promotes brain injury prevention

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A new trauma program is helping health-care providers better identify, prevent and manage brain injuries, says the director of emergency programs for Health PEI.

According to provincial statistics, 2,030 Islanders went to an emergency department citing a head injury over the past two years.

To address this growing need, Trauma PEI was launched in 2016 to work with health care providers, community partners and schools to deliver the best possible care to Islanders with a brain injury.

Dr. Scott Cameron, who is also the medical director of Trauma PEI, said emergency department physicians regularly care for Islanders with a wide array of brain injuries.

"Probably the ones that are less commonly diagnosed would be the concussions on the milder end of the spectrum," he said on CBC's Maintreet P.E.I.

"The real challenge is for the patient in many cases who may have a period of time where they have some difficulties with learning, with processing, with balance and some of those more subtle executive functions they take for granted."

Trauma PEI helps link education with research and prevention to help reduce the prevalence and, where possible, the severity of a brain injury, he said.

Medical simulations

It is also working with emergency department staff across the province to carry out medical simulations that include traumatic brain injury.

Health PEI says the most common type of brain injury is mild traumatic brain injury or concussion, most often resolves in two weeks.

Falls are the number one cause of head injury in those over 70 years of age and under the age of one.  

Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of head injury for those 35 to 45 years of age, and sports injuries for Islanders 15 to 25 years old.

Preventing brain injuries

March 13-19 is Brain Awareness Week, and Health PEI is reminding Islanders they can help protect themselves from a brain injury by:

- Operating motor vehicles safely and not being distracted by mobile devices and texting.

- Wearing the proper headgear for sports such as hockey, football and biking.

- Taking action to prevent falls among older adults in their homes and communities.

- Ensuring that play areas are clear of hazards.

- Following proper safety procedures when taking part in organized sports and other activities.

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