Injuries that kill or cause serious lingering injuries are almost always preventable. In fact some statistics show that 95% of those injuries could have been prevented. ThinkFirst’s goal is to change the numbers up so that those 95% are at a zero percentage.
ThinkFirst began in 1992 when Dr. Charles Tater envisioned a future free of traumatic brain and spinal injuries among children and youth. Using education as a means to change behaviours about risk taking ThinkFirst is working to achieve this goal.
Every year 390 children die and 25,500 are sent to hospital because of injuries. Many of the 100 people that die as a result of a bicycle accident are under the age of 15. When a bike helmet is worn 85% of the time head and brain injuries can be prevented.
Dr. Tator is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at The University of Toronto. He has worked at some of Toronto’s best hospitals as part of their Neurosurgical Staff including The Toronto Western Hospital where from 1985-1988 he was Neurosurgeon-in-Chief. He then moved on to a ten year term as Chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto in 1989.
This year ThinkFirst and Aviva Canada will be expanding a program begun called Aviva Brain Day. Last year the program set for grade 5 and 6 students reached almost 6000 elementary students in more than 200 classrooms in 9 cities across Canada.
One of the programs that ThinkFirst has worked on is getting more sports helmets on the heads of kids. From Thunder Bay to Windor more than 4500 helmets have been handed out with with MHP-ThinkFirst Ontario Safe Sport Helmet Initiative. The final phase of this program will be handing out more than 6,000 vouchers for helmets to Ontarian children in need. By contacting your local Public Health Unit parents can find out if they qualify for a voucher.
In 2006 Aviva chose ThinkFirst Foundation Canada as its first signature charity.
Brain damage in children is difficult at times to measure. With adults there are records such as prior academic records, I.Q. scores, and job histories that give a clue to how well a person functioned. With children there often aren’t tools to gauge.
Because of their age some neurological deficits that result from head trauma aren’t manifested until years later. Consider frontal lobe functions which develop later in a child’s growth. These functions control social interactions and interpersonal skills. These skills don’t come into play until school age.
Recent studies have shown that a child’s skull is only 1/8 as strong as an adults making the young more vulnerable to injuries. For this reason alone prevention is key.