The month of March was a time for the nation and the United States Army to inform the public and military community that brain injuries are a serious threat to quality of life.
During Brain Injury Awareness Month, personnel from U.S. Medical Department Activity here reached out to Soldiers and Families through information booths, radio broadcasts on KNTC “The Heat,” and even during Story Time at the post library. The reading program for children, primarily toddlers, provided an opportunity for MEDDAC Soldiers and civilian employees to impart the message about wearing helmets when bicycling or skateboarding.
During the week of March 10, Sgt. Steven Steiner, a health technician at Behavioral Health with MEDDAC, imitated the voices of characters while reading the book “Franklin’s Bicycle Helmet” by Paulette Bourgeois. Franklin the turtle has appeared in several books by Bourgeois with themes to help children overcome fears. In this book, Franklin has to rise above feeling awkward when wearing his bicycle helmet.
Heather Lowman, military spouse here, took her young children to Story Time and said that she tries to attend every Friday. The program teaches kids to sit and inspires them to read. She stated that seeing Soldiers participate is good.
“It’s fun to see them get involved with the young kids and the kids seeing them caring,” Lowman said.
Sergeant 1st Class Erendira Cortez, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for MEDDAC, explained that at such a young age, children imitate their parents. Teaching toddlers about safety is never too early.
“They learn so much just by observing adults and their surroundings that we can start teaching them the basics such as: ‘I have to be safety conscious when I’m riding my bicycle or skateboard or playing a sport that might injure us like football,” Cortez explained.
Learning to protect the head and brain by wearing a helmet is significant, because accidents do happen, and some are serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room at Weed Army Community Hospital here. According to Capt. Amber Birkle, emergency room nurse at WACH, approximately one patient – adult or child – per day is admitted to the ER. A few weeks ago, a contractor fell from a moving vehicle and a child tumbled from the top of a slide. Both were ruled out for a head injury.
Escaping a head injury in one accident is fortunate, but even small accidents that involve the head can eventually lead to traumatic brain injuries.
“Traumatic brain injury might not happen in one impact, but over time it adds up and it affects our brain,” said Cortez. “The mind is a beautiful thing and we don’t want to lose that.”