The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 20, 2013

Speaking of Health: Brain injury prevention starts now

Ronak Shah, M.D.

— The brain is a precious thing. It controls your muscles, thoughts, reasoning, breathing and a host of other vital bodily functions. Unfortunately, the brain is not exempt from damage. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries each year. Traumatic brain injuries are caused by bumps, blows, jolts or penetrating injuries to the head that alter normal brain function.

Fortunately, preventing brain injuries is something you can do starting right now.

Risk factors

Individuals who are at the highest risk of brain injuries include:


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:


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:



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. This information will help keep you and your family safe in a world full of uncertainty. Think of your brain.

Ronak Shah, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System emergency medicine physician.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato is hosting its annual Bicycle Safety Rally from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, at the River Hills Mall in Mankato. Families can purchase bike helmets at a discounted price and participate in other bike safety activities. For more information, please go to

Health & Fitness coverage is supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, preserving the health and well-being of southern Minnesota communities.