March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

State Health Department and Brain Injury Association of New York State Emphasize Prevention, Prompt Care for Injuries

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 9, 2012) – Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are on the rise, according to New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., who urged people to be cognizant of the risks and take appropriate steps to prevent or treat head injuries.

During the observance of Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month in March, the State Health Department and the Brain Injury Association of New York State (BIANYS) are encouraging people to learn about brain injuries and how to prevent them. The two agencies are partners on a four-year, $1 million grant awarded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 2009 to improve the quality of life for residents with TBIs.

"In recent years, we've seen a 63 percent increase in incidents leading to traumatic brain injuries with more than 140,000 of these incidents resulting in hospitalization or a trip to the emergency department," Commissioner Shah said. "Prevention is vital to avoiding TBIs, and we strongly urge prompt medical treatment for anyone who suffers a head injury, including a concussion."

If an event causes head trauma and a brain injury is suspected, it is important to seek medical care from a health care provider. Having both physical and cognitive tests subsequent to the injury is critical to the best recovery and the provider can determine the appropriate course of treatment.

"A TBI occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain," said Judith Avner, executive director of BIANYS, who noted that injuries can happen when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, has a sudden acceleration-deceleration movement such as whiplash or being shaken, or when an object pierces the skull. "Concussion is a type of TBI common in motor vehicle accidents and athletic activities, but it may occur anywhere, including a person's backyard."

People are strongly encouraged to follow simple prevention techniques to avoid TBI, including:

  • Proper use of protective equipment and safe playing techniques in sports and recreation activities;
  • The use of properly installed infant and child car seats and seat belts; and,
  • For seniors, eliminating trip hazards in the home, regularly reviewing medications, and having an annual eye exam. In addition, routine exercise is especially important for older New Yorkers to help maintain or improve balance and coordination to prevent falls that may result in TBI.

Additional information about TBI, including prevention and treatment, is available at the State Department of Health web site,; or from the Brain Injury Association of New York State website at, or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at