Spotlight E.P. News

Department of Health recognizes Brain Injury Awareness Month with the #MoreThanMyBrainInjury Campaign

SANTA FE – March is Brain Injury Awareness month, which raises awareness about traumatic brain injury (TBI) prevention and supports improving the quality of life those who are affected by it. TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, and for those who survive, effects can range from a few days to the rest of their lives. The #MoreThanMyBrainInjury campaign provides a platform for educating the public about the incidence, prevalence, and prevention of brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBIs are most often caused by falls, being struck by or against an object and motor vehicle crashes.

“While brain injury happens most often in motor vehicle accidents and athletic activities, they can happen to anyone at any time, including in our own homes,” said DOH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajon. “If you think you might have a brain injury from a head injury, it’s important to see a healthcare provider right away.”

In 2019 New Mexico had 1,048 TBI-related hospitalizations and 663 TBI-related deaths. Men (44.9 deaths per 100,000 residents) are three times more likely than women (14.1 deaths per 100,000 residents) to experience fatal TBIs, while Native Americans (43.3 deaths per 100,000) are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (36.7 deaths per 100,000 residents) to experience fatal TBIs. Hospitalization rates for TBIs are also higher for men (6.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents) and Native Americans (9.4 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents) in New Mexico.

Effects of TBI can include:

•Impaired thinking or memory.
•Impaired movement.
•Impaired sensations, for example vision or hearing.
•Emotional changes, for example personality changes or depression.

The Department of Health was awarded funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Core State Injury Prevention Program (Core SIPP) to improve injury infrastructure in New Mexico. TBI prevention is identified as a priority area for this project, with a focus on American Indian/Alaskan Native populations, and men of all races and ethnicities.

To lower the risk of TBI, the Department of Health recommends New Mexicans follow some simple prevention techniques:

•Properly use protective equipment and safe playing techniques in sports and recreation activities.
•Wear a seatbelt every time you are in an automobile no matter how short the trip and make sure passengers also buckle up (including properly securing children in car seats).
•Wear a helmet when riding an off-highway vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle and while horseback riding or skiing.
•Older adults should talk to your doctor about fall risk and prevention, engage in strength and balance exercises, get regular eye exams and eliminate trip hazards in your home.

For more information on traumatic brain injuries, visit: braininjurynm.org and nmstopfalls.org.