Each year, an estimated 1.7 million persons in the United States sustain a brain injury, and 12,000 - 20,000 sustain a spinal cord injury. In fact, injury is the leading cause of
death among children and teens. The most frequent causes of these injuries are
motor vehicle crashes, violence, falls, sports and recreation. The good news is
that most injuries are preventable! The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation's award-winning,
evidence-based programs are aimed at helping people learn to reduce their risk
ThinkFirst programs educate
young people about their personal vulnerability and the importance of making
safe choices. The message is: You can have a fun-filled, exciting life, without
hurting yourself if you "ThinkFirst."
Buckle up. Drive safe and sober. Avoid violent situations. Lower your risk to
fall. Wear a helmet. Check the water before you dive. Use your mind to
protect your body!
Our network of ThinkFirst
Chapters provides powerful, thought-provoking, upbeat programs to students of
all ages. "Street Smart," the Safety Superhero, delights young
children, while teens relate to our VIP speakers - Voices For Injury
Prevention - who share how a traumatic injury needlessly changed their life. Each
year ThinkFirst chapters provide thousands of educational presentations to schools,
businesses, organizations, conferences, and community events.
Visit our website often to learn about ThinkFirst events,
ThinkFirst Chapter locations for scheduling school programs, and ordering
educational products. We also invite you to be a "partner in prevention" by
supporting ThinkFirst events and contributing through honorary or memorial
donations. Working together, we can play a significant role in helping kids
learn to "ThinkFirst!"
ThinkFirst: Leading injury prevention through education,
research and policy.
The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation, formerly known as the
National Head and Spinal Cord Injury Prevention Program, was first implemented
nationally in 1986. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)
and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) directed two neurosurgeons, E.
Fletcher Eyster, MD, of Pensacola, Florida and Clark Watts, MD, of Columbia,
Missouri to develop a national injury prevention program based on their
previous prevention efforts in their respective communities.
The AANS and CNS initiated the development
of the national program due to their concern for their patients with brain and
spinal cord injuries. These groups share the belief that prevention is the only
cure, and that neurosurgeons have a duty to try to prevent these traumatic
injuries. Eyster and Watts saw the assignment from the two largest professional
neurosurgical organizations as an opportunity to recruit other health
professional to undertake public education prevention efforts, as well as to
address public policy issues related to injury prevention.
Each locally established chapter was sponsored by a neurosurgeon committed to
public education and injury prevention. The replicable program materials
consisted of a teen-oriented program, reinforcement materials, and a program to
influence public attitudes and legislative policy. ThinkFirst's initial
program, ThinkFirst For Teens, was offered to middle and high school audiences
to teach young people about personal vulnerability, the consequences of
traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and easy methods for preventing
The tremendous response to the program throughout the country led to its
institutionalization by the AANS and CNS. Their continued support is a
statement of the national neurosurgical community's ongoing commitment to
public health and injury prevention.
The efficacy of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation has been
demonstrated through its increasing acceptance by school educators, student
evaluations, letters from parents and public officials, adoption by
professional organizations, the measurement of attitude changes toward injury
by students, and the increased usage of safety belts and other safety behaviors
in targeted age groups.
National and international recognition
The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation has been recognized in many ways over the years for outstanding injury prevention programs. Early on, ThinkFirst was awarded the 1988 Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives and the 1989 Award for
Excellence in Prevention Education from the American Medical Association. In
2000, Life Space Adaptation Projects of the University of Toronto identified
ThinkFirst as an example of "Best Practice" in the category of
Comprehensive Community-Based Prevention Strategies. Two years later, the
California Department of Education recognized ThinkFirst For
Kids as a research-validated program and accepted it into its California
Healthy Kids Resource Center, making the curriculum and its supplementary
materials available for loan throughout the California educational system.
Most recently, ThinkFirst was very honored to be presented with the 2009 Distinguished Service Award from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons at their annual meeting in New Orleans- a meeting of over 3,000 neurosurgeons!
A new era
Today, the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation offers
research-validated multi-level educational programs that have reached millions
of young people nationally and internationally, has had major influences on
public policy initiatives, and continues to expand to reach those most vulnerable
to traumatic injuries. By virtue of their work in treating patients who have
sustained traumatic injuries, physicians and allied health professional are
natural spokespersons for prevention. Recently, ThinkFirst has expanded its
efforts to encourage all health professionals to get involved. ThinkFirst
provides health professionals with the training, tools, and support to assist chapters
in spreading the prevention message in their communities, in turn, lowering the
incidence, cost and devastation of traumatic injury.