Brain Injury Prevention Tips for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

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As part of efforts to promote safe driving during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, experts from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center's (DVBIC) A Head for the Future initiative remind drivers to protect their heads while on the road.  

Motor vehicle collisions are the most common cause of brain injuries in the military, according to a 2013 Department of Defense Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR). Fatal motor vehicle crashes tend to peak in the warmer months of the year.

"More than 30 percent of brain injuries in the military community come from motor vehicle collisions," said Army Colonel Sidney Hinds II, M.D., DVBIC's national director. "Wearing personal protective gear, especially a helmet, and being responsible on the road can reduce instances of serious injury — particularly to the rider's head."

Motorcycle safety training is mandatory for all DoD personnel. In addition, military personnel are required to wear personal protective equipment, such as long sleeves, eye protection and helmets, even if they are in a "no-helmet" state.

The A Head for the Future initiative offers tips about how service members, veterans and their families can protect their heads in daily activities. Tips for preventing TBIs sustained in motorcycle collisions include:

  • Always wear your helmet and make sure it fits properly, tightening the strap snug to fit your head.
  • Passengers should always wear helmets, too.
  • Drive safely, at or under the designated speed limit.
  • If there is inclement weather, use other means of transportation.
  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription medication.   

Raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of brain injury, educating service members and veterans about ways to be safe during daily activities, and encouraging them to seek treatment helps preserve the health of the nation's military force, Hinds said.

"Moderate to severe brain injuries can be easily diagnosed, but the signs and symptoms of a concussion can be the most difficult TBIs to recognize," said Dr. Scott Livingston, director of education for DVBIC. "It is vital to understand how to detect a brain injury to know when to seek help from a medical professional."

The most common signs and symptoms of brain injury include:

  • Headache or a sensation of pressure in the head — the most common symptom of TBI
  • Dizziness, feeling off-balance or the sensation of spinning
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep problems

No one should return to vigorous physical activity after any type of brain injury, even a concussion, without the evaluation of a trained medical professional, Livingston said.

To access additional information about brain injury prevention and recovery, visit: dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture.

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