ThinkFirst Oregon receives national awards for injury prevention efforts

May 5, 2015

Dr. Edward NeuweltMore than 350,000 Oregonians have learned about brain and spinal cord injury prevention thanks to ThinkFirst Oregon's programs and activities, and on May 2, the group received national accolades for its efforts. Edward Neuwelt, M.D., professor of neurology, OHSU School of Medicine, and ThinkFirst Oregon program staff received the awards at a ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation conference in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Neuwelt, founder of ThinkFirst Oregon and its sponsoring physician, 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. Dr. 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.

Since establishing the OHSU chapter in 1986 with personal funds, Dr. 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. 

ThinkFirst Oregon was honored 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 Injury Prevention Foundation 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.

In a letter of support for ThinkFirst Oregon, Senate President Pro Tempore Ginny Burdick (D – Portland) said, "The impact that ThinkFirst Oregon has had on preventing injuries in Oregon's youth cannot be overstated. I fully support their mission of preventing traumatic injuries and feel that they serve a great role in maintaining and promoting the health of the citizens of Oregon."

ThinkFirst-Oregon-helmetThe 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+). 

ThinkFirst also works with student athletes and coaches across Oregon. To foster education about brain injury, coaches and teachers are provided 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.

The majority of unintentional brain injuries are preventable – a message at the heart of all ThinkFirst Oregon's outreach efforts

Pictured: (top) Dr. Neuwelt at the ThinkFirst Injury Prevention Foundation conference; (bottom) Kayt Zundel, MPA, ThinkFirst program director, with Dr. Alexander Neuwelt and Dr. Ed Neuwelt.