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Each year, nearly 2 million people in the United States sustain a brain or spinal cord injury. Among those between the ages of one and 44, traumatic injury is the leading cause of death. Sadly, many of these fatal injuries are largely preventable.
Training children to avoid injury is the job of the local chapters of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation. Mary Wilstrup, RTN and Inservice Specialist at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, leads the Mobile chapter.
The free educational programs are aimed at helping people - especially those at high risk like children, teens and young adults - learn to reduce their risk for injury. Programs are held in the community at schools, churches, at meetings of scouts and sports teams.
There are four different programs and the content is geared to the age of the audience and the types of injuries they might encounter. Each program is 50-70 minutes long and is a combination of speaker presentations, videos and Q & A.
For younger children, Wilstrup uses simple demonstrations and general guidelines for bike and helmet safety along with using seat belts and safely crossing the street. For middle school aged children there is more of an emphasis on helmet safety in relation to ATVs, motorcycles, sports, and gun safety.
Teenagers get a more “in your face” message regarding the long-term effect of head and spinal cord injuries. Compelling presentations explain how an injury can change a life forever and the importance of making safe choices. The message is simple: Use your mind to protect your body. Drive safely, buckle up, wear protective sports gear, avoid violence, don't dive into shallow water and avoid falls. Think first!
“Children and young adults don’t often consider that they can be hurt during their activities. The ThinkFirst program gives them some awareness of how fragile they are while emphasizing ways to protect yourself while having fun and being a kid,” said Dr. Anthony Martino, USA Neurosurgeon who is involved with the program.
To schedule a ThinkFirst program or more information, contact Wilstrup at (251) 415-1547.
About USA Children's & Women's Hospital
The University of South Alabama Children's & Women's Hospital is among a handful of freestanding hospitals in the United States dedicated specifically to the health care needs of children and women. USACWH health care professionals are uniquely qualified and equipped to provide a wide range of therapeutic and surgical services for children and women, be it life-threatening illness, traumatic injury, premature birth or high-risk obstetrical and gynecological needs.
USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital is the Mobile area’s leading provider of health services for newborn babies and their mothers. The Labor & Delivery Unit successfully delivers more than 2,800 babies each year, an average of five to 15 babies each day, which is twice as many births as any other hospital in Mobile. The unit also features 15 private birthing suites promoting family-centered care and three operating rooms for cesarean section deliveries and other obstetric procedures.
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