Increasing helmet use prevents many traumatic brain injuries across Alaska | Chronic Disease Updates: September 2022

Alaska Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Updates: September 2022

Resources to help with traumatic brain injury

Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury (TABI) Resource Facilitation Agencies

These agencies provide information, resources and help with disability services such as housing, employment, benefits, legal rights, and transportation to assist people who have experienced a brain injury. These agencies also offer peer support groups open to people who have experienced head injuries, as well as their parents, families, and caregivers.

Alaska Legal Services Corporation

Find information about accessing free legal services for various problems. Priority is given to clients based on income and social needs.

Special Education Service Agency

This educational service agency helps school-based teams and other professionals implement multiple disabilities services into educational programs. These programs include professional development, staff training and instructional programming support.

Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation

Find support to prepare for, get, and keep jobs.

TABI Mini Grant Program

If you are an Alaska resident, 18 years or older, have a diagnosed traumatic or acquired brain injury and are experiencing financial hardship, you are eligible to apply for this grant for up to $2,500. These funds can be used for medical and dental services, assistance with rent and utilities, and other support. Applications are reviewed every third Friday each month. Apply within your region here.

This program is administered by the State of Alaska, Division of Senior and Disabilities Services (SDS).

Brain Injury Association of Alaska

This organization provides support to people whose lives have been changed by brain injury to find community information, education, resources, and guidance. Call at (907)-274-2824.

Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) HelpLine

CLF Helpline provides personalized help to those struggling with the outcomes of brain injury. If you or a loved one are seeking guidance on how to choose the right doctor, struggling with lingering concussion symptoms, or have any other specific questions, submit your request online.

Brain Matters AK

Find education for individuals, caregivers, health care providers and organizations about TBI.

Challenge Alaska

This organization provides therapeutic recreation, adaptive sports and education for Alaskans living with disabilities.

If you need help now:

Having a traumatic brain injury can increase chances for depression and suicide.

If you feel like you are in crisis and need someone to speak with, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988.


Program Links
Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury 

- Alaska’s Injury Prevention program

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Increasing helmet use prevents many traumatic brain injuries across Alaska

8 year old girl dressed for winter in Alaska wearing a helmet and sitting on an ATV is getting ready to go for a ride.

September 6, 2022 — In 2022, Alaska’s Injury Prevention program launched a new campaign called “Defend Your Brain” to help prevent brain injuries and recognize them as early as possible.

Traumatic brain injury, often shortened to TBI, is an injury that affects how the brain works. These types of injuries are a leading cause of disability and death. Traumatic brain injuries can change how people feel, think, act, or sleep. For example, symptoms can include headaches, feeling more emotional or irritable, or having trouble concentrating.

Many traumatic brain injuries can be prevented by incorporating safer ways to play and travel.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places,” said Daniella DeLozier, Injury Prevention program manager. “However, playing outside in Alaska and getting from one place to another can come with some risk. Our campaign is sharing the best ways to protect our brains while we live, work and play in Alaska.”

“As a practicing emergency physician, I see many people come to the emergency room with signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries, like persistent headaches, nausea, struggling in school, or acting like someone else,” said Dr. Anne Zink, State of Alaska Chief Medical officer. “Our brain controls everything, like our emotions and ability to think. But once it’s hurt, we don’t have good ways to fix it. The brain takes a long time to heal, which is why recognizing signs and symptoms and following up with a health care provider is important.”

Some Alaskans face higher chances for traumatic brain injuries

In Alaska, the most frequent causes of brain injuries are falls, assaults, and transportation accidents —including motor vehicles, ATVs, and snowmobiles. Anyone can suffer from a traumatic brain injury, but some Alaskans face higher chances, including young children ages 0–4, adolescents ages 15–19, older adults, and rural and remote residents.

Why early detection is key

It can be difficult for people who work with youth and families to recognize the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries in children. Many of these symptoms can look like other cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. In addition, symptoms may not appear right away, especially for young, developing brains. Early diagnosis and intervention is key because these injuries affect the way children play and learn. If left untreated, traumatic brain injuries can have long-term health, emotional, and behavioral effects.

“Recovering from these injuries means time away from learning and playing,” said Dr. Zink. “It can really set a kid back. It’s easy to see a cast and know a kid has broken a bone. It’s harder to see a kid struggling in school and realize it’s because they had a concussion in a sports game. As parents, teachers, and providers, we need to be asking kids when they’re acting differently if they’ve had a fall or a hit to the head and get them screened for traumatic brain injury right away.”

Ways to defend your brain

According to the Alaska Native Medical Center, almost all head injuries from ATV accidents in Alaska were because the driver was not wearing a helmet. Part of the new Defend Your Brain campaign from the State of Alaska Injury Prevention Program focuses on improving helmet use across a variety of sports and seasons, from ATV and snowmachine riding to bicycling, skateboarding, skiing, and snowboarding.

Gear Up. A well-fitting helmet is the most important piece of protective equipment for defending your brain. You can read more about ATV helmet safety on page 5 of the ATV Safety Institute’s ATV Tips Guide.

“We only get one brain,” said Dr. Zink. “Strapping a helmet on is the best way to defend it, even for those quick trips. Putting kids on the right-sized equipment can also help keep them safer by reducing the speed at which an accident will happen.”

Wear other protective gear while riding, too. Goggles, long sleeves, long pants, boots, and gloves help protect your eyes and skin.

Follow minimum age and size warning labels. Follow the manufacturer’s minimum age warning label on the ATV for kids younger than 16.

Limit passengers. On a single-rider ATV, the driver should be the only passenger. On an ATV designed for two people, there shouldn’t be more than one passenger on board.

More ways to improve ATV safety

Alaskans can take other steps to make ATV use safer:

  • Supervise and support children under age 16 while riding.
  • Talk with your family and friends about never riding under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
  • Ride on public use ATV trails except when crossing paved roads legally and safely.

Read more about ATV safety in Alaska in the Play Every Day blog.

Tracking traumatic brain injuries in Alaska

Many groups in Alaska work together to better understand how often TBIs happen in the state and how injured people are affected afterward. For recent Alaska data on traumatic brain injuries, search the Resources & Data section on the Brain Injury State Partnership Program. Visit this website to read more about the Alaska State Plan for Brain Injury.

Alaska’s Injury Prevention program is working with many partners to share messages and resources to turn these trends around. Partners include the Alaska Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Council, the University of Alaska Center for Human Development, and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Learn more about preventing brain injuries

The Defend Your Brain campaign shares messages with thousands of Alaskans about recognizing symptoms of traumatic brain injury, promoting safer ways to play and travel to prevent these injuries, preventing falls, reducing assaults, and sharing resources for families experiencing injuries. This campaign was created in partnership with the Alaska Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the Brain Injury State Partnership Program.

A child with a possible TBI should be seen immediately by a health care provider.

If you have additional questions about Defend Your Brain, please contact Alaska’s Injury Prevention program at


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