ThinkFirst Oregon, Ed Neuwelt receive national awards

On May 2, in Washington, D.C., ThinkFirst Oregon was honored by the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation with a national Outstanding Community Involvement Award for its innovative community-based injury prevention initiatives. ThinkFirst Oregon was the only program selected for this award from 154 ThinkFirst chapters in the United States and 36 international chapters.

The ThinkFirst National selected ThinkFirst Oregon for the competitive award in recognition of its fall prevention seminar series for older adults. The award also recognized its concussion education outreach program aimed at coaches, parents and teachers.

Edward A. Neuwelt, M.D., professor of neurology in OHSU’s School of Medicine, and founder of ThinkFirst Oregon, was selected for a Distinguished Service Award for his nearly three decades of advocacy on behalf of injury prevention. This award has been presented only a few times in the last 30 years. Neuwelt currently serves as the director of the Blood Brain Barrier Program and the administrator of the Head and Spinal Cord Injury Prevention Program at OHSU.

About ThinkFirst Oregon
OHSU-based ThinkFirst Oregon is part of a national nonprofit organization working with teachers, educators and community groups to reduce the risk of brain and spinal cord injury through community education and outreach. In the last two years, ThinkFirst Oregon has worked to raise awareness among community members about prevention of brain and spinal cord injury through local events. The program has reached more than 500,000 Oregonians with injury prevention programs and activities.

A concussion is the most common brain injury, and all brain injuries are serious. ThinkFirst Oregon’s outreach efforts strive to deliver the message that the majority of unintentional brain injuries are preventable. The organization works to educate community members about brain anatomy and function to help them realize the importance of protecting our brains from injury.

Targeting older Oregonians
Oregon Health Authority points to fall injuries as one of the leading causes of injury hospitalization in Oregon, and among the leading causes of injury-related death for older adults. To help older Oregonians avoid falls, ThinkFirst Oregon offers fall prevention courses, including The Matter of Balance Fall Prevention – an eight-week course for people 60 and older. Because prevention is often a community effort, seminars typically target family members, caregivers and older adults (50+).

Empowering community members
ThinkFirst Oregon certifies community members to teach fall prevention in their communities as volunteers.  Over the past two years, ThinkFirstOregon provided five fall prevention instructor trainings free to community members. The eight-hour trainings took place at OHSU in Multnomah County, Clackamas County and Lincoln County. Over the past two years, approximately 77 community members participated in the coach training.

Teens and concussions
To foster education about brain injury among student athletes, ThinkFirst equips coaches and teachers across Oregon with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concussion kits. Teen volunteers assist ThinkFirst Oregon at program events to create a culture of prevention among young Oregonians.

About Edward Neuwelt
Neurosurgeon Ed Neuwelt, M.D., has served as sponsoring physician for ThinkFirst Oregon for the past 29 years. Since establishing the chapter at OHSU in 1986 with personal funds, Neuwelt has been deeply committed to injury prevention education, research and advocacy. He continues to identify new research possibilities, secure funding for prevention programs, testify at legislative hearings and identify creative approaches to injury prevention education. His efforts to elevate injury prevention in the public’s consciousness have produced one of the most prolific and respected chapters in the nation.