Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James is hosting its annual Bicycle Safety Rally from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at St. James Federal Bank. Families can purchase bike helmets at a discounted price and participate in other bike safety activities. For more information, please visit mayoclinichealthsystem.org or call Jyl Gartner at 507-375-8602.

The brain controls your muscles, thoughts, reasoning, breathing and many other essential bodily functions, which makes it extremely important. Unfortunately, the brain is not exempt from damage, but there are actions you can take to protect your brain. Pepper Etters, emergency medicine physician assistant at Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James, shares information and tips on preventing brain injuries.


Prevention


There are many proactive measures you can take to help prevent brain injuries and head trauma. Following these basic tips will have a positive impact on your brain health:


Wear a helmet. While your skull does a great job of protecting your brain, it was not designed to take higher speed impacts. It’s important to wear a helmet while you are riding an all-terrain vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle, skateboard or snowmobile. Be sure to wear helmets or other approved forms of head protection when playing contact sports, skiing, snowboarding or riding a horse.


Don’t drive under the influence. Don’t drink and drive, and avoid driving under the influence of drugs, including many prescription medications.
Buckle up. Always wear your seatbelt. Secure small children in the back seat in a safety seat that is the right size for their height and weight.


Prevent falls. You can effectively reduce falls in your home by installing handrails in bathrooms and on stairways; improving lighting; keeping your floors and stairs free of clutter; inserting slip-resistant mats in your bathtub and shower; and exercising regularly.


Risk Factors


Individuals who are at the highest risk of brain injuries include:
Young children, particularly newborns to 4-year-olds.


Teens and young adults, especially those between 15 and 24 years old.
Adults 75 and older.


Symptoms


If you do experience head trauma, understanding brain injury symptoms is essential for seeking timely treatment and avoiding further complications.
Signs of a brain injury range from mild to severe and may include:
Adult
Temporary loss of consciousness (a few seconds to a few minutes)
Confusion or disorientation
Dizziness or loss of balance
Nausea or vomiting
Changes in mood
Disrupted sleeping patterns (sleeping more or having trouble sleeping)
Slurred speech
Seizures
Pupil dilation in one or both eyes
Constant headache or headache that becomes more severe
Clear fluids coming out of the ears or nose
Children
Any adult symptoms
Persistent crying
Refusal to eat, or a change in eating or nursing habits
Lack of interest in favorite activities or toys


If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or someone else, seek medical attention immediately.


By learning more about prevention, risks and symptoms, you can be adequately prepared to reduce your risk of a brain injury or complications from head trauma.


Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James is hosting its annual Bicycle Safety Rally from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at St. James Federal Bank. Families can purchase bike helmets at a discounted price and participate in other bike safety activities. For more information, please visit mayoclinichealthsystem.org or call Jyl Gartner at 507-375-8602.