Beyond the Statistics: The Untold Stories of Brain Injuries

kids on bikes with helmets

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time to shed light on the millions of Americans living with the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). While statistics tell part of the story, every one of the estimated 2.8 million Americans who sustain a TBI each year, and the 5 million living with TBI-related disabilities, has a unique story to share.

Behind the numbers are individuals and families navigating the challenges of a life forever changed. A seemingly ordinary fall, a car accident, a sports injury – any sudden impact to the head can lead to a TBI, impacting physical, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of life.

While recovery is possible, the road can be long and arduous. Research shows that the five-year outcomes of individuals with TBI are:

  • 22% deceased
  • 30% worse off
  • 22% unchanged
  • 26% improved

These statistics highlight the vast spectrum of experiences after a TBI, emphasizing the need for both awareness and action.

Knowing about the common causes of brain injury can help us take preventive measures:

  • Falls: The leading cause of TBI, especially in older adults.
  • Motor vehicle crashes: A significant risk factor, particularly for individuals who ride motorcycles or bicycles.
  • Violence: Assaults and sports injuries can contribute to TBIs.

Prevention strategies include:

  • Wearing helmets during activities like cycling and riding motorcycles.
  • Using fall prevention measures at home, especially in high-risk areas like bathrooms.
  • Promoting child safety through car seats, bike helmets, and playground supervision.

If you or someone you know experiences a serious head injury, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial. Early diagnosis and intervention can significantly impact recovery and long-term outcomes.

During Brain Injury Awareness Month, let’s remember:

  • Behind the statistics are individuals and families with unique stories.
  • Brain injuries can have lasting impacts, but recovery is possible.
  • Prevention measures can significantly reduce the risk of TBI.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for optimal outcomes.

By raising awareness, advocating for support, and encouraging preventive measures, we can create a safer environment and empower individuals living with TBI to reach their full potential. Remember, every story matters. Let’s listen, learn, and support.

Learn More About Brain Injuries from the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut.

Power Down: Your Guide to Staying Safe When the Lights Go Out

gas generator in garage with gas cans

When the power goes out, and you’re left in the dark; a trusty generator can save the day. However, before firing up this powerful machine, remember that generators, while helpful, require careful use and caution. Neglecting safety can lead to serious health hazards and even death.

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

One of the biggest threats posed by generators is carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas produced by combustion. Inhaling CO can be deadly, silently sneaking into your home through open windows or doorways, replacing oxygen in your bloodstream, and robbing your body of vital energy.

Safety Tips:

  • Never run a generator indoors, in garages, basements, or any enclosed space.

  • Place the generator at least 20 feet away from your house, downwind if possible.

  • Install battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors in your home, near bedrooms and living areas.

  • Test your CO detectors monthly and replace batteries regularly.

  • If you experience dizziness, headache, nausea, or weakness, seek fresh air immediately and call emergency services.

Electrocution: Shocking Dangers

Generators generate electricity, and that means potential for shock. Improper use can lead to serious injury or even death.

Safety Tips:

  • Only operate the generator on a dry, level surface.

  • Keep the generator dry and avoid running it in rain or wet conditions.

  • Do not touch the generator with wet hands.

  • Use properly grounded, heavy-duty extension cords specifically designed for outdoor use.

  • Never connect a generator directly to your home’s electrical system. This can back feed electricity to the grid, endangering utility workers and others.

Beyond the Generator: General Power Outage Precautions

While safety during generator use is paramount, don’t forget additional precautions while the power is out:

  • Fire Safety: Use flashlights or battery-powered lamps instead of candles. Keep fire extinguishers close at hand.

  • Food Safety: Refrigerated and frozen food may spoil quickly. Keep coolers on hand and pack them with ice to preserve perishables.

  • Medical Needs: If you rely on medical equipment requiring electricity, have a backup plan in place, such as battery-powered devices or alternative care arrangements.

  • Communication: Stay informed about the outage and potential restoration times through battery-powered radios or online sources accessible on your phone.

Remembering these safety tips and general precautions can help you navigate power outages with confidence and keep yourself and your loved ones safe. When darkness descends, let common sense and caution guide your way until the lights come back on.

Bonus Tip: Invest in a generator transfer switch installed by a qualified professional. This allows you to safely connect your generator to your home’s electrical system, providing backup power without the risk of backfeeding.

Stay safe, stay informed, and remember, even when the lights are out, knowledge is your brightest power source.

Learn more about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from the CDC.

Helpful tips for a healthy and safe Halloween

Kids trick or treat. Halloween fun for children.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for both children and adults, but it is important to make safe and healthy choices while enjoying the occasion. Here are some tips for parents on how everyone can enjoy a safe and healthy Halloween.

Trick-or-treating safety

  • Make sure your child’s costume is well-fitting and flame-resistant.
  • Add reflective tape or stickers to your child’s costume and bag to make them more visible to drivers.
  • Choose a light-colored costume if possible.
  • If your child is wearing a mask, make sure it has large eyeholes and that it allows them to breathe easily.
  • Accompany young children while trick-or-treating.
  • Only trick-or-treat at houses that are well-lit and decorated.
  • Inspect all candy before allowing your child to eat it.

Healthy eating habits with Halloween candy

  • Limit your child’s candy intake.
  • Encourage your child to choose healthier candy options, such as dark chocolate or sugar-free candy.
  • Serve candy with a meal or snack to help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Offer your child other healthy snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American child consumes between 3,500 and 7,000 calories worth of candy on Halloween. 

Eating too much candy can be a contributing factor in future health problems, including obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes. It’s important to teach your child healthy eating habits at a young age, and Halloween is a good opportunity to start.

Here are some tips for helping your child make healthy candy choices:

  • Talk to your child about the importance of eating healthy foods.
  • Explain that candy is a treat, and that it should be eaten in moderation.
  • Help your child choose healthier candy options, such as dark chocolate or sugar-free candy.
  • Serve candy with a meal or snack to help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Offer your child other healthy snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

By following these tips, you can help your child enjoy Halloween safely and healthily.

Hurricane season: What to do if a major storm impacts Southeastern CT

satellite image of a hurricane

Hurricane season is upon us, and while Connecticut is not as frequently affected by hurricanes as some southern coastal areas, it is not immune to the potential impacts of these powerful storms. To ensure the safety and well-being of yourself and your loved ones during hurricane season, it’s crucial to be prepared. Here are some essential tips for Connecticut residents to stay safe and be prepared in the event a hurricane impacts Southeastern Connecticut.

Stay Informed

The first step in hurricane preparedness is staying informed. Keep a close watch on weather forecasts and pay attention to any hurricane watches or warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS). Sign up for emergency alerts and notifications through platforms like FEMA’s Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to receive timely updates.

Create a Hurricane Emergency Kit

A well-prepared emergency kit is essential for any disaster situation. Assemble your kit well in advance of hurricane season and include items like:

  • Non-perishable food and a manual can opener
  • Bottled water (at least one gallon per person per day)
  • First-aid supplies and prescription medications
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Personal hygiene items and sanitation supplies
  • Important documents (passport, insurance papers, identification)
  • Cash in small denominations
  • Pet supplies if you have pets

Develop an Evacuation Plan

In the event of a hurricane, you may need to evacuate your home. Plan your evacuation route in advance and communicate it with your family members. Identify local shelters or hotels that accept pets if you have them. Consider the needs of elderly family members or individuals with disabilities when planning your evacuation.

Water coming over road during hurricane

Secure Your Home

Prepare your home for a hurricane by taking the following steps:

  • Reinforce windows with hurricane shutters or plywood.
  • Trim trees and bushes to reduce the risk of debris during high winds.
  • Ensure your roof is in good condition and make any necessary repairs.
  • Elevate valuable items and electronics in your home to protect them from flooding.
  • Secure outdoor furniture and loose objects that could become projectiles in high winds.

Stock Up on Supplies

Stock up on essential supplies well in advance of a hurricane. Grocery stores and gas stations may run out of supplies in the days leading up to a storm. Ensure you have enough food, water, and other necessities to last at least three days.

Health Considerations

Hurricanes can have a significant impact on your health. Here are some health-related tips:

  • Keep a supply of necessary medications on hand.
  • Stay hydrated to prevent heat-related illnesses during power outages.
  • Avoid floodwaters, as they may be contaminated and pose health risks.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases by using repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothing.

Stay Connected

Maintain communication with friends and family during a hurricane. Share your whereabouts and safety status regularly. Consider investing in a backup power source for your phone, such as a portable charger or a car charger, as power outages can disrupt communication.

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