by Makenna Thrush
As I was enjoying the day on the beach in Clearwater, Florida on August 5th, 2021,
everything suddenly changed when my mom got a text from one of my best friends’ mom that
my friend had an accident and is currently in the hospital. There were not many details at the
time other than she had fallen off a rope swing and is currently unconscious on a ventilator. We
later found out that after having a few drinks, she went on a rope swing on someone’s back and
they both fell off, leading her to be unconscious. The others there had to perform CPR and call
911 for the ambulances and water rescue to come. My friend was taken to Penn State Health
Children’s Hospital in Hershey, PA, and put on a ventilator for several days. She ended up
spending several weeks in the hospital as she had limited movement, couldn’t walk, and couldn’t
talk very well. She also later found out after she had suffered a TBI of 5-6 and now had to go
through speech therapy, occupational therapy, and music therapy. My friend remembered
everything up until getting onto the rope swing. After making tremendous improvements, she
was able to get moved to a rehabilitation hospital that she would be in for a few weeks. Before
the accident, she was set to go to Kutztown University in the fall to swim but now was unable to
As devastating as this accident was, several of the events that took place could have been
avoided. Think First, the National Injury Prevention Agency, explains that accidents occur all the
time whether that be motor vehicle accidents, falls, violence, sports, etc. (4). According to the
Population Reference Bureau (PBI), the injuries caused due to accidents are the leading cause of premature death in the United States, as about 5 million people are harmed a year due to injuries
from an accident, yet most of them can be easily prevented (1). Very few injuries that occur are
intentional, so trying to put a stop to those “accidental injuries” can save lives and could have
helped my friend (1). We can help to put a stop to these accidental injuries that are frequently
occurring throughout the world through proper surveillance like the CDC conducts (3).
Accidents end up leading to several injuries and harm done to the person, such as TBIs, which then
lead to long-term health effects on the individual’s life that make day-to-day tasks more
challenging (4). Think First explains how TBIs are among one of the most serious injuries and
they create lasting life changes that impact all aspects of a person’s life (4). In 2019 the CDC
reported 61,000 deaths within the U.S. because of a TBI (2). The CDC also states that falls,
gunshots, and accidents are the most common ways to get a TBI (2).
With these public health problems in the world, several organizations like Think First are
looking into setting plans to prevent accidental injuries from occurring. There are a number of
safety precautions that Think First is utilizing in order to prevent such injuries from occurring.
Think First teaches programs that have been put in place in schools and outside organizations to
inform children of potential dangers that can be caused by making a poor decision (4). In
addition to programs for the parent to teach them how to stop their kids (4). In the programs,
Think First emphasizes how these potential injuries often occur, the dangers it puts on a person’s
health, and how to prevent accidents from happening (4). The programs that the Think First
organization conducts includes presentations from individuals who have sustained a brain or
spinal cord injury from an accident, presentation on the anatomy background as to how the body is affected, and ends with a discussion to allow for questions and talk about the issue of accidental injuries (4).
If you take anything away from this story, let it be this: always think of your actions and
the consequences that may come about before you do something. Going on a rope swing may
seem fun, but be aware of the dangers of doing so. One stupid action could lead you to have to
live an unwanted lifestyle that could have been easily avoided. Take advantage of the programs
that Think First is offering so that you do not end up in the place that my friend and many
others are in due to an accident that could have been easily prevented. For more information on
how to prevent such injuries please visit the Think First, National Injury Prevention Foundation
- Injury and Violence: A Public Health Perspective. Population Reference Bureau.
- Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention.
- Injury Prevention and Control. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention.
- Teens ThinkFirst for Teens! ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention.