ThinkFirst: Injury Prevention for Kids


Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, the home of the Santa Barbara County Chapter of ThinkFirst for Kids and Teens, has presented the ThinkFirst for Kids and Teens injury prevention program to approximately 10,000 students since 1993. CRH offers the program as community outreach at no cost.


Healthcare professionals who treat patients with traumatic injuries have developed and implemented “ThinkFirst” over the last 20 years in an attempt to prevent young people from sustaining brain and spinal cord injuries.


Young people take risks and, consequently, disproportionately sustain brain and spinal cord injuries. Four common causes of brain and spinal cord injuries are:

  • motor vehicle crashes
  • falls
  • sports
  • violence


Think First for Kids and Teens educates elementary and secondary school students to think first, to use good judgment to minimize risk of injury, as they play, explore, and choose activities.


During one-hour presentations, healthcare professionals explain the anatomy and the vulnerability of the brain and spinal cord, the risks and consequences of brain and spinal cord injury, and simple injury prevention strategies. Accompanying the healthcare professionals are “VIPs” (Voice for Injury Prevention), individuals who have sustained brain or spinal cord injuries themselves, who share their experiences and discuss the physical, social, and emotional effects of their injuries. The simple message they urge their young listeners to take home is that it is possible to have a fun-filled, exciting life, without hurting yourself if you think first and use your mind to protect your body.


Last year, the Orfalea Fund, through a generous grant, made it possible for team members from Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital and Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation to meet with Brian Sarvis Ed.D., Superintendent of Santa Barbara School District, and his staff to propose implementation of the “ThinkFirst” Program in the district. As a result, the program will offer 30 “Think First” assemblies and classroom presentations in the elementary and junior high schools in the Santa Barbara School District during calendar year 2008. 




For more information about “Think First”, please contact Denise Dowd, OT, at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital 687-7444 ext. 82311 or