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Head And Neck Injury Prevention The Focus Of American Association Of Neurological Surgeons Sixth Annual National Neurosurgery Awareness Week

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The Sixth Annual National Neurosurgery Awareness Week (NNAW) kicks off this year on May 3 during the 77th Annual Meeting of the AANS in San Diego. Approximately 3,000 neurosurgical medical professionals will meet to further their continuing medical education in specialty areas including spine and peripheral nerves, as well as cerebrovascular, pain, pediatrics, stereotactic, trauma, tumor, and socioeconomic issues affecting the specialty.

“Neurosurgeons treat children and adults for sports-related traumatic brain and spine injuries all too often. Bicycles continue to be the number one cause of sports-related head injuries. The growing popularity of powered recreational vehicles, such as ATVs, has led to many injuries, especially in children, who are often riding unattended by an adult and not wearing helmets,” remarked James R. Bean, AANS president. “By using your head and wearing an approved, properly-fitting helmet for all wheeled sports and powered recreational vehicles – 100 percent of the time – you can help prevent potentially tragic or fatal injuries,” added Dr. Bean.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks product-related injuries through its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Every year, an estimated 1.5 million people are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for head injuries and nearly 12,000 are treated for neck fractures. Many of these injuries are related to recreational activities and sports. Of the more than 500,000 people treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries, 65,000 suffered head injuries in 2007, About 600 deaths a year are attributed to bicycle accidents, most involving motor vehicles. Skateboarding/scooters contributed to 16,500 head injuries. The CPSC reports the following real-life, tragic incidents.

– A 6-year-old boy without a helmet was riding his bike, fell off and hit his head, suffering a head injury and neck fracture at C 1.
– An 11-year-old girl crashed her go-cart and died from massive head injuries.
– A 14-year old boy crashed his ATV and died from a skull fracture in the ER – he was not wearing a helmet.
– An 18-year-old male dove into too shallow water in a rock quarry, struck his head, and suffered a spinal cord injury.
– A 21-year-old male without a helmet fell backwards while skateboarding; suffering both a head injury and neck fracture at C 4-5.

The AANS offers the following injury prevention tips:


– The proper usage of SNELL, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)-approved helmets can help prevent up to 85 percent of head injuries. It is essential that the helmet fit properly and that the helmet strap is closed and tightened so that it doesn’t fall off while riding or if you take a fall.
– Children under age 1 should not be carried on a bicycle, because their necks are not strong enough to withstand a helmet on their heads.
– Bike a minimum of three feet from parked cars, in case a door swings open.
– Do not wear headphones or use a cell phone.
– Obey local traffic regulations at all times.
– Never grab onto a moving vehicle to get a “free” ride.
– Use “hand-signs” to indicate the direction of your turns.

Skateboarding/In-line Skating

– Inspect your skateboard or skates for any damaged parts and replace them before using again.
– Wear a helmet, fastened securely to your head, every time you skateboard or skate.
– Check the area for rocks, debris, cracks in the pavement or uneven surfaces.
– Wear well-fitting clothing, knee and elbow pads, wrist braces, and gloves.


– Do not dive in water less than 12 feet deep or in above-ground pools. Check the depth and check for debris in the water before diving.
– Follow all rules and warning signs at water parks, swimming pools, and public beaches.
– The first time you go into a body of water, walk into the water.
– Never push or shove somebody into the water and do not allow your children to do so.

General Sports and Recreation Activities

– Supervise younger children at all times, and do not let them use sporting equipment or participate in activities unsuitable for their age. Do not let them use playgrounds with hard surface grounds.
– Discard and replace sporting equipment or protective gear that is damaged.
– Never slide headfirst when stealing a base.
– Always wear a helmet when riding any powered recreational vehicle.

The AANS offers in-depth information on sports-related injuries and prevention on its public Web site at:,, and

Founded in 1931 as the Harvey Cushing Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is a scientific and educational association with more than 7,400 members worldwide. The AANS is dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to provide the highest quality of neurosurgical care to the public. All active members of the AANS are certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Neurosurgery) of Canada, or the Mexican Council of Neurological Surgery, AC. Neurological surgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system, including the spinal column, spinal cord, brain, and peripheral nerves.

American Association of Neurological Surgeons

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