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A child with a possible TBI should be seen immediately by a health care provider. Alaska Trauma Center - image of Top 10 Non-Fatal Injury document

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Program Contacts

3601 C Street, Suite 722
Anchorage, AK 99503
Phone: 907-269-2020
Fax: 907-269-5446
hss.injuryprevention@alaska.gov

Daniella DeLozier
Unit Manager
907-269-8495

Margy Hughes
Public Health Specialist
907-334-5967

Tyler Watson
Research Analyst III
907-269-8689

Join the Injury Prevention listserv or go to list.state.ak.us and scroll down to select Injury Prevention.

Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries

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).2,3 Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Related health problems can last a few days to a lifetime.1

Alaska has one of the highest number of people experiencing traumatic brain injuries in the nation.3,4 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.

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.

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.

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. 

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

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
    • Ride a horse
    The right-sized helmet helps protect your head.
  • Wear helmets during sports like:
    • Ice hockey and football
    • 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

Alaska Brain Injury Network

Life after a brain injury can be challenging. The Alaska Brain Injury Network is a starting point for receiving support, including information about brain injuries, weekly support groups, financial help and trainings.

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.

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development

This department provides educational resources for parents and guardians of children with disabilities.

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 hss.injuryprevention@alaska.gov.

Sources

1. Traumatic Brain Injury / Concussion | Concussion | Traumatic Brain Injury | CDC Injury Center. Published May 13, 2021. Accessed June 4, 2021. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html

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. https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/academics/college-of-health/departments/center-for-human-development/brain-injury-partnership-program/_documents/TBI_Data_AK_Trauma_and_HFDR_accessible.pdf

3. Alaska Brain Injury Network. Brain Injury in Alaska. Accessed June 4 2021. https://alaskabraininjury.net/brain-injury-in-alaska/

4. Alaska Division of Behavioral Health. Initiatives: Traumatic Brain Injury. Published 2017. Accessed June 4 2021. Retrieved from https://dhss.alaska.gov/dbh/Pages/Initiatives/tbi/default.aspx

5. 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. http://anthctoday.org/epicenter/publications/InjuryAtlas2020/2020_AlaskaNative_InjuryAtlas_FullReport.pdf