Chapter Director of ThinkFirst Northern Nevada
Kathy O’Sullivan, MS, PT, CBIS is the Chapter Director of ThinkFirst Northern Nevada. She is a physical therapist with Rehab Without Walls, a neurorehabilitation company specializing in the treatment of brain injury. Kathy received her master’s degree at Duke University and has been practicing physical therapy, specializing in neurorehabilitation since 1988. Her experience includes inpatient, outpatient and community based rehab as well providing physical therapy for students in Washoe County School District. Brain injury prevention and treatment are Kathy’s passions, both professionally and personally. She has a son with an acquired brain injury and lives with its consequences daily. She is very excited to be working with ThinkFirst Northern Nevada and bringing increased awareness to our community.
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 for injury.
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!
Read more: About ThinkFirst
ThinkFirst of Northern Nevada was established in 2011.
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 injuries.
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.