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Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Wearing a helmet while riding ATVs can help prevent traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow, jolt or piercing injury to the head.1 The injury affects how the brain works and can cause disability and death.1 In Alaska, the most frequent causes are falls, assault, and transportation crashes (including ATV, motor vehicle, and snowmachine).2 Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Related health problems can last a few days to a lifetime.1

From 2012-2016, about 1 out of every 5 reported injuries in Alaska included a brain injury, according to an analysis done by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.3

Common causes of traumatic brain injuries: falls, assault, ATV/snowmachines, motor vehicles 

Read more about traumatic brain injuries on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Why early detection is key

People who have experienced a traumatic brain injury should be seen by a healthcare professional. Understanding the signs and symptoms of these injuries can help people get the support and resources they need to get better more quickly.

A child with a possible TBI should be seen immediately by a health care provider.

If you or your family member has suffered a bump, blow, jolt or piercing injury to their head, talk to your healthcare provider about signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Early treatment of symptoms may help you recover more quickly. Early diagnosis and intervention are especially important for younger people because these injuries can affect the way children develop, play and learn. Traumatic brain injuries can be treated to support long-term health, emotional and behavioral effects for younger people and adults.

Brain injuries affect the way people feel, think, act and sleep. 

There are many healthcare providers and organizations that can help you and your family as you recover from a traumatic brain injury. For more information, see the Helping Alaskans find support after a traumatic brain injury section below. 

Signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries:

  • May affect how people feel, think, act, or sleep1
  • Can look like other health problems1
  • May not appear right away, especially in children1

Taking Steps to Prevent Traumatic Brain Injuries

Alaskans can prevent traumatic brain injuries in several ways:

Fall prevention at home 

Individuals can prevent falls among older adults and young children

  • Install safety features at home, like window guards and stair gates and secure dressers and bookcases to the wall
  • Add ice grips to shoes when needed
  • Keep walkways clear of ice and snow
  • Test eyesight and hearing annually
  • Review medications for side effects
  • Get regular physical activity

Play safely

Wear proper gear for a safer ride. 
  • Wear proper-fitting sport specific helmets for riding activities like:
    • Bicycles, scooters or skateboards
    • ATVs
    • Snowmachines
    • Riding a horse
  • Wear helmets during sports like:
    • Ice hockey and football

    • The right-sized helmet helps protect your head. 
    • Snowboarding, downhill skiing, ice skating or sledding
  • Talk to young athletes about ways to protect their brain
  • Remove players from a practice or game after a hit to the head
  • For more information check out Alaska School Activities Association Guide to Concussions in Sports

Travel safely

  • Familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s maintenance procedures, like regular inspections and maintenance at specific mileage intervals to help prevent motor vehicle crashes, a leading cause of brain injuries
  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Use car seats and booster seats for young children
  • Wear flotation devices when boating or playing near water
  • Never operate a vehicle of any kind after drinking alcohol or using drugs

What communities, schools and professionals can do to reduce assault, a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries

Investing in communities reduced brain injuries. 
  • Provide programs in schools and communities that teach healthy relationship skills
  • Provide education on reporting sexual and physical assault
  • Increase availability of services in rural and remote areas for people who’ve been assaulted
  • Improve training about assault for village police officers, tribal officers and public safety officers

Learn more about protecting your brain by watching this video from the Dana Foundation and this video about helmets from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Helping Alaskans find support after a traumatic brain injury

Return to School – AK

This site provides materials, education, tools, and support for Alaska school counselors, nurses, coaches, educators and administration, parents, and community providers to help support students returning to school after a brain injury.

Refer Students Experiencing Brain Injury to the Youth Brain Injury Program

Parents/guardians, family members, school staff, health care professionals, and juvenile justice staff can refer students to the Youth Brain Injury Program for direct support in schools for students experiencing brain injuries. This referral will be sent to the Youth Brain Injury Program coordinator who will provide follow up with resources as needed.

Brain Injury Association of America — Alaska

The Brain Injury Association of America — Alaska provides information and resources about finding support groups, assistance programs including insurance support, independent living centers, parent training, victims of violent crime compensation, rehabilitation support for people with brain injuries and other disabilities, and more. The association also offers a brain injury information line at 1-800-444-6443.

Connect directly with brain injury resources in your area

Access Alaska, Daybreak, Maniilaq Association, and Southeast Alaska Independent Living

These agencies provide information, resources and help with disability services such as housing, employment, benefits, legal rights, and transportation to assist people who have experienced a brain injury. These agencies also offer a peer support groups for people who have experienced head injuries. These support groups are also open to parents, families, and caregivers.

Alaska Legal Services Corporation

Alaska Legal Services Corporation focuses on improving safety, health and family stability by offering free legal services to people facing issues around housing problems, public benefits, domestic violence, health care complications, and consumer law, as well as issues specific to Alaska Native partners and clients, veterans, and older adults. Priority is given to clients based on income and social needs.

Tracking traumatic brain injuries in Alaska

Many groups in Alaska work together to better understand how often traumatic brain injuries happen in Alaska and how injured people are affected afterward. The University of Alaska Center for Human Development coordinates the statewide Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Council, which collects and analyzes data from the Alaska Trauma Registry and Alaska Health Facilities Data Reporting Program.

For recent Alaska data on traumatic brain injuries, search the Resources & Data section on the Brain Injury State Partnership Program.

To read more about the Alaska State Plan for Brain Injury, visit the AK State Plan section on the Brain Injury State Partnership Program.

Contact Us

Contact Daniella DeLozier, MSPH, Injury Prevention Unit Manager, Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, at


1. Traumatic Brain Injury / Concussion | Concussion | Traumatic Brain Injury | CDC Injury Center. Published May 13, 2021. Accessed June 4, 2021. Retrieved from

2. University of Alaska Anchorage Center for Human Development. TBI data from the Alaska Trauma Registry and the Alaska Health Facilities Data Reporting Program. Published May 29, 2019. Accessed June 4, 2021.

3. Strayer H, Blake I, Stevens I, Provost E. Alaska Native Injury Atlas: Third Edition. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Injury Prevention Program and Alaska Native Epidemiology Center. Published December, 2019. Accessed June 4 2021.