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September Injury Prevention

Primary, secondary and tertiary injury prevention


Over the last four years, monthly injury prevention articles have provided information and reminders on how to increase safety and health. With the recent passage of health care reform, the present time is appropriate to discuss what prevention means on a basic level. Obviously, no single effort can affect all negative health and injury events, but steps can be taken to promote longevity and reduce health challenges.

Prevention is divided into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Each level provides a variety of opportunities for promoting health and safety.

Primary Prevention
Primary prevention defines activities and behaviors that are protective against disease and injury. Some examples include eating a healthy diet low in fat and sugars and receiving immunizations against preventable diseases like measles, mumps, chicken pox and hepatitis B. Health screenings for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol offer excellent ways to keep tabs on your body’s health indicators.

Other primary prevention activities include wearing protective devices such as seatbelts in motor vehicles, helmets when cycling or motorcycle riding, wearing life jackets for water safety and ensuring all family members know how to swim. Another inexpensive preventative measure is the utilization of home smoke detectors in the bedroom areas. For more information on smoke detectors, contact your local fire department. 

Secondary Prevention
Secondary prevention minimizes the effects of the injury or illness once it develops and before it becomes symptomatic. In order to make this happen, it is important to stay in communication with your health care provider and begin any necessary treatment at the earliest possible time. By doing this, the likelihood of maintaining a robust life is enhanced.

Secondary prevention is all about early detection and corrective actions. Examples include modified work for injured workers, or modification of homes of individuals prone to falls, therefore minimizing their injury risk. It is also important to continue with primary prevention measures to help diminish the problems caused by disease or injury.

Tertiary Prevention
The third level of prevention involves administering rapid medical attention to conditions as they occur to reduce the impact on a productive life. Examples include physical rehabilitation after an injury or cardiac event or providing prosthesis for limbs lost to injury or disease. Tertiary prevention includes those factors that promote restoration to a positive lifestyle following an injury or medical event.

Promoting awareness, participation and acceptance of behaviors and habits that promote a healthy lifestyle is a win-win situation. The damage of injury and the limitation of illnesses can be controlled by being responsible and proactive in our own lives. Prevention increases longevity and reduces pain and suffering for yourself and your family. Our country’s new health care legislation yields an excellent time to work toward maximizing our health benefits by actively adopting new and healthy behaviors.

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