Opportunities Unlimited

Rebuilding Lives. One step at a time.


What can I do to help prevent concussion and other forms of TBI?

There are many ways to reduce the changes of a concussion or other forms of TBI, including:

  • Wearing a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
  • Buckling your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt (according to the child's height, weight and age).
  • Children should start using a booster seat when they outgrow their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 pounds). They should continue to ride in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly, typically when they are 4'9" tall.
  • Never driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Wearing a helmet and making sure your children wear helmets when: riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter or all-terrain vehicle;
    • Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey or boxing.
    • Using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;
    • Batting and running bases in baseball or softball;
    • Riding a horse; or
    • Skiing or snowboarding

If you believe that you may have a concussion, seek medical attention immediately.

Bike Safety

Make sure your child's bicycle helmet fits correctly and the straps are in the right place:

  • Forehead: the front edge of the helmet should be the width of 2 fingers above the eyebrows.
  • Ears: the side straps should form a "V" just below the earlobes.
  • Chin: you should be able to fit just one finger under the chin strap.

Over 90% of children age six to 16 ride bicycles. Children start cycling as play when they are very young. As they grow older and become more experienced, the transition from toy to transportation is made. With increasing independence, parents have less control of where the bicycle is ridden an how it is used. The attitudes you as a parent instill in your children from a young age will determine how they will ride for years to come.

Starting out

Make sure your child's bike and helmet are the right size. He or she should be able to straddle the bike with both feet on the group; a bike that is too big or too small is a safety hazard. As a minimum, your child's first bike should be equipped with a bell and reflectors.

For young children, set the following hard and fast rules:

  • No playing on the road
  • No riding on busy streets
  • No riding at night
  • Stop for all stop signs
  • Ride on the right with traffic
  • Make your own decisions

The majority of bicycle injuries do not involve motor vehicles. Most are falls, collisions with stationary objects and collisions with other bikes or pedestrians result from the bicyclist losing control and most occur less than five blocks from home, in familiar surroundings. But the most serious incident-including over 95 percent of cyclist deaths involve motor vehicles. In 70 percent of the collisions, the cyclist is at fault, either by violation of law or by poor road sense.

The following are some of the most common causes of bike injuries:

Driveway rideout

A youngster rides out of the driveway and gets hit by a car. Very often these incidents involve younger children; the median age is less than 10. Does your driveway present obstructions to the view of passing motorists, such as bushes or trees? If so, trim them back. Most importantly, teach your child about driveway safety. Go outside to the driveway and have him or her practice the following steps:

  • Stop before entering the street
  • Scan left, then right for traffic
  • If there is no traffic, proceed into the roadway

Running the stop sign

Most cyclists who get hit riding through stop signs know that they are supposed to stop. They just don't see why, or they get distracted. Impress on your child that, while he or she may not get hit every time, running stop signs is very dangerous. Take your child to a stop sign and explain what it means, emphasizing the following:

  • Stop at all stop signs regardless of what is happening
  • Scan both directions for traffic
  • Wait for any cross traffic to clear
  • Proceed when safe

After dark

Most crashes in a which a car coming up from the rear hits a bike while overtaking happen at night. These overtaking accidents can be serious. Most, however, involve older cyclists; the median age is about 20. For adults and teenagers, the first requirement is to be visible: use bright lights and reflectors, and wear light-colored clothes with reflective tape.

Follow the leader

Teach your child always to assess the traffic situation for him or herself. When a group is riding around, each cyclist should stop for stop signs. Each one should scan to the rear before making left turns.

Head Injuries

Less than 20 percent of reported bicycle injuries involve collisions with cars. Most occur in falls, or as a result of riders losing control. A bad fall can result from a skid, catching a wheel on a crack or even getting a shoelace caught in the chain.

In a spill, the forehead usually hits the ground first. Head injuries cause most bicycle related deaths and can result in serious injury such as brain damage. Up to 85 percent of serious head injuries could be prevented by wearing a helmet. Insist your child always wears a helmet when riding. Remember, a helmet only works when you wear it!

Never forget that example is the best teacher

  • Get into the helmet habit
  • Always stop at stop signs
  • Practice what you teach

Opportunities Unlimited is beating TBI-one helmet at a time!


Pictured above - Opportunities Unlimited presents bicycle helmets to second grade students each year in March. The helmet give away is in recognition of March as Brain Injury Awareness Month. Second grade students participate in an essay contest on how they would be safe on their bike and winners are chosen by OU leadership. OU chooses second graders as this is the age where they are in need of a larger size helmet in which they can wear until they are an adolescent. Second graders are also becoming more independent with their skateboarding, bike riding, rollerblading, sledding, etc. The donation is meant to further highlight the importance of protective equipment during recreational and athletic activities.Our hope is to promote safety in the Siouxland area and encourage families and individuals to take preventative measures by:

  • Wearing protective head gear when engaging in sports activities including bike riding, baseball, football, etc.
  • Always wearing your seat belt
  • Taking measures to prevent falls and minimize risks in the home
  • Not driving while intoxicated or allowing others to do so

While Opportunities Unlimited strives for excellence in rehabilitative services for individuals who have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), we also promote education and prevention. Please protect yourself and your loved ones from this highly preventable and life changing injury.

Making living areas safer for seniors by:

  • Removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs and clutter in walkways;
  • Using nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors;
  • Installing grab bars next to the toilet and tub or shower;
  • Installing handrails on both sides of stairways;
  • Improving lighting throughout the home;
  • Maintaining a regular physical activity program, if your doctor agrees, to improve lower body strength and balance.

Making living areas safer for children by:

  • Installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows;
  • Using safety gates at the top of stairs when young children are around;
  • Making sure the surface on your child's playground is made of shock absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.


Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a blow or jolt to the head. The injury can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works.

An athlete does not need to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion. You cannot see a concussion but you might notice some of the symptoms can show up days or weeks after the injury. It is best to see a health care professional if you think you might have a concussion. An undiagnosed concussion can affect your ability at school or work and in everyday activities.

Signs and symptoms of concussions:

  • Nausea (feeling that you might vomit)
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Headache
  • Feeling sluggish or tired
  • Feeling foggy or groggy
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble remembering


Brain Injury Association of America (2010). Help Student Athletes Live Better Longer: Prevent Traumatic Brain Injury. Retrieved April 7, 2010

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (March, 8 2010). Injury Prevention and Control: Traumatic Brain Injury. Retrieved April 7, 2010

Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association. (2005). Prevention and Education. Retrieved April 7, 2010