Wearing Helmets Saves Lives and Money
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
NASHVILLE – Traumatic brain injury can occur as a result of any head injury. Whether it is a fall from a bicycle or a motorcycle crash, a sports concussion or a head trauma to one of our brave veterans from an explosion on the battlefield, the delicate brain can suffer significant after affects. Many of these injuries can be prevented. During observances of Brain Injury Awareness Month, the Department of Health is reminding Tennesseans of the importance of wearing helmets while riding motorcycles and bicycles to help prevent brain injuries. Tennessee ranks number six in the nation for lives saved and economic costs saved due to helmet use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“No one expects to suffer a brain injury, but it can happen to any one of us anywhere at any time,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Many brain injuries are preventable, from following guidelines after a sports concussion to a decision to wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle. We urge Tennesseans to learn more about this issue and how they can prevent traumatic brain injuries and the significant personal, medical and disability costs that can go with them.”
According to the CDC, the lives of 46 Tennesseans were saved by helmet use in 2010 for every 100,000 registered motorcycles. That’s higher than the national average of 36 lives per 100,000 registered motorcycles for states with a universal helmet law. CDC also estimates that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent.
Helmet use also saves money. The CDC estimates the United States saved $3 billion due to helmet use in 2010, and could have saved an additional $1.4 billion that same year if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a bump or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The majority of TBIs are concussions or other mild forms of brain injury from which people fully recover. However, even with concussion or other mild brain injury, people can suffer from a variety of symptoms such as headaches, sleep disruption, memory loss or depression.
TBI is a serious public health problem in Tennessee and the United States. In Tennessee, approximately 8,000 people are admitted to the hospital each year with a TBI. Approximately 1.7 million Americans suffer a brain injury every year. Statistics show children under age four, adolescents aged 15 to 19 years and adults aged 65 years and older are most likely to sustain a TBI. In every age group, TBI rates are higher for males than females.
The TDH Traumatic Brain Injury Program works to address the needs of individuals who have sustained a brain injury, as well as their family members and primary caregivers. Program staff members are available to respond to questions, make referrals and provide education and training. Learn more at http://health.tn.gov/TBI/Index.htm.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH is one of 22 cabinet-level departments in the executive branch of Tennessee state government. Together with its six vital metro partners, TDH provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for all people in Tennessee including health professional licensure, health facility regulation and inspections of food service establishments. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and employs more than 3,500 people. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.