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Medicine for the Outdoors
Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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ThinkFirst Foundation


Head and neck injuries are all too common, particularly in outdoor activities. As part of my activities with the Wilderness Medical Society, I have become familiar with the ThinkFirst Foundation of Canada. So far, I have been very impressed. Its mission is to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries through education aimed at healthy behaviors in children, recognizing that prevention is absolutely critical. Once a brain or spinal cord injury has occurred, it is too late, and the results can be devastating. It is wise to take the position that prevention is the only cure!

The methods used by the ThinkFirst Foundation are to promote safe behavior through educational materials, public service announcements, and reinforcement materials; encourage progressive public policy regarding injury prevention; conduct research on the causes of injury and on the effectiveness of its injury prevention programs; and develop new initiatives and programs to reach the community with the Think First prevention message.

The latest edition of Brain Waves, the organization’s newsletter, is a good example. There is an article on backpack safety, a Q&A about bike helmets, an announcement about “Smart Soccer,” a booklet that will be launched this summer to educate soccer players about the risks of soccer injuries and how to play soccer safely, and a moving story about an individual who suffered a brain injury after falling off a bicycle.

I will write more in the future about injury prevention. Until we eliminate avoidable mishaps that result in brain and spinal cord injuries, we can never cease to explore new approaches about to how to stay out of harm’s way.

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.

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