VICENZA, Italy- Some of us grew up drinking out of the garden hose. Many of us grew up without using seat belts, car seats or helmets. However, we have come a long way in our society. The next generation is more educated on the value of injury prevention and making better choices. Despite evidence of decreased injuries and death, there is still work to be done on preventing brain injury.

Traumatic brain injuries, TBI, can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone. The numbers are staggering. That is why March has been designated Brain Injury Awareness month, and community health advocates, patients and families of patients will all be working to increase awareness across the Vicenza Military Community.

Vicenza High School students, for instance, have been learning about brain injury prevention and will post their art work on the subject throughout the month of March.

The Vicenza TBI team recently launched an educational YouTube channel, VicenzaTBI, to increase community awareness and resources. It will offer short videos reinforcing provider education on topics such as headaches and healthy sleep, and free audio downloads on the TBI website to help listeners relax.

You can also find Vicenza's TBI Team in front of the Commissary March 15 and 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. distributing informational literature.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention, a TBI is described as a blow, jolt or bump to the head -- or a penetrating head injury -- that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Injuries can result in a range of outcomes. Of the 1.7 million people who sustain a TBI, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized and 1.365 million (nearly 80 percent) are treated and released from emergency care.

In the military, 260,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI from 2000 through the third quarter of 2012. Perhaps most surprisingly, 84 percent of all TBIs in the military are non-deployment related.

It is important that we foster ongoing efforts in research and develop adequate support services for patients recovering from TBI and their families. Prevention awareness is the key. Wearing a helmet to protect the brain and adequate injury assessment when accidents occur are critical.

If someone sustains a head injury, what should you do? Do you know the concussion ABCs?

A: Assess the situation: Pay close attention to anyone who sustains a head injury and take the time to thoroughly assess them. If they are playing a sport, remove them from the game.

B: Be alert for signs and symptoms: These can include loss of consciousness, appearing dazed or stunned, answering questions slowly, changes in memory, headaches, nausea or vomiting, changes in vision, balance or personality changes.

C: Contact a health care professional: Seek help right away, don't delay. Know where to go before an emergency occurs.

If you have questions or concerns, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov or talk to your local health care provider.

Page last updated Fri March 15th, 2013 at 00:00