Healthy Living in the North

Concussion: There’s an app for that!

I’m sure many of us know someone who has suffered a concussion, or been unfortunate enough to experience one personally. I know several of my friends have been diagnosed with a concussion in the last few months alone.

Concussions don’t just happen in major car crashes and extreme hockey hits. A concussion is any blow to the body or head that causes the brain to move around inside the skull. This could be caused by a seemingly minor fall or hit, even where you don’t lose consciousness at all.

There are several red flag symptoms to watch for if you suspect a concussion. If you see any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Red flag symptoms of concussion

  • Neck pain
  • Increased confusion or irritability
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Weakness in arms/legs
  • Tingling or burning in arms/legs
  • Deteriorating consciousness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Unusual behaviour change
  • Double vision
App graphic

Concussion Ed is available in the Apple App Store as well as Google Play for Android devices. Concussion Ed is also available via a web-based version for Blackberry and Windows users.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with a concussion, physical and mental rest are important in making a full recovery. Parachute Canada has made learning about concussions and tracking healing easy with their new app, Concussion Ed.

Why download a concussion app?

Parachute Canada cautions:

the real dangers of most concussions occur when the injury is not recognized or is managed incorrectly. Returning to activities too early can put a child at increased risk for future concussions and serious complications.

The Concussion Ed app is designed to provide easy-to-follow information geared towards parents, youth, and educators. Concussion Ed can be used for anyone caring for a child who is suspected of having or recovering from a concussion. This app provides a format to share information with your health care provider to ensure the best care and recovery.

Concussion Ed features

  • Ways to prevent concussions
  • Recognize a concussion
  • Manage symptoms after a concussion
  • Track your recovery

Concussion facts

  • Concussions do not always include a loss of consciousness.
  • Helmets do not protect against concussions, but do protect from skull fractures.
  • A hit to the body can cause a concussion, even if the head was not hit.
  • The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be delayed up to weeks post injury.

Watch Concussion 101: A Primer for Kids and Parents then download Concussion Ed to learn more!

Natasha Thorne

About Natasha Thorne

After many years in southern B.C., Natasha was drawn back to her hometown of Prince George in 2006 by the lure of extended family, sub-boreal forests, and raising her babes exploring the backwoods of her own childhood. Whether nose in a book or in real life, Natasha is an aspiring world traveller planning overseas vacations so she and her husband can give their two children a wider perspective of living in today's global community. As the full time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention for Northern Health, Natasha is committed to the north and is passionate about supporting the health and well-being of northerners.


We all have a role to play in safety!

Looking for easy to understand information on keeping children safe?

The Parachute Canada website is not just for me to use in my work as an Injury Prevention Lead. It is for me as a parent, as an auntie, and as a community member! And it’s for you! When you have a few minutes, check it out! And what better time than Safe Kids Week?

Safety at home

As kids grow, the hazards change. Did you know that falls are the number one cause of injury in the home? Don’t let their first roll be off the change table. Get tips for safety at home!

Parachute Canada poster

Safety at play

When seasons change, the sport activity changes. Any jarring force to the body or head that causes the brain to knock against the skull can cause concussion. Would you know what to do? Get tips for safety at play!

Parachute Canada poster

Safety on the road

Always use the correct car seat or booster seat on every ride, even short trips close to home. When was the last time you checked to see if the seat you use is meeting the growing needs of your child? Get tips for safety on the road!

Parachute Canada poster

The Parachute Canada website is for everyone. We all have a role to play in safety!

Amy Da Costa

About Amy Da Costa

Amy Da Costa has worked in Public Health for 12 years. She recently joined the Population Health team as a part-time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. Amy lives in Kitimat with her husband and two children. They like to camp, swim, and cook as a family.


Getting ready for Safe Kids Week 2016: Highlighting preventable injuries

Girl wearing life-jacket at the beach.

2016 is the 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week! Community toolkits to support local events will be released by Parachute Canada on April 18, 2016.

You wouldn’t know it by looking outside at the driving rain that is pouring down my office window, but at the end of March, northwest B.C. saw some of the warmest weather in history. Warm spring weather always sets the stage for another great season of outdoor activity and play.

With lots of new outdoor activities available to us, spring is also a great time of year to talk about childhood injuries. Injuries are the leading cause of death for children and are a leading cause of hospitalizations. Injuries don’t happen by accident. They occur in repetitive and predictable patterns; injuries are preventable.

You may think I’m putting a damper on the enjoyment of the season, but awareness is a form of prevention! The real tragedy is when fun is affected by the serious injury of a loved one. We can change the statistics.

Parachute is a national charitable organization dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives in Canada. From May 30 – June 5, 2016, Parachute Canada will be celebrating 20 years of injury prevention awareness for children and families through Safe Kids Week. This year, Safe Kids Week will be raising awareness and sharing information to prevent injuries:

  • At home (burns, poisoning, falls, water)
  • At play (concussions, falls)
  • On the road (bicycles, motor vehicles, pedestrians)

I hope that you’ll join me in saving the date! Community Toolkits for this year’s Safe Kids Week will be available from the Parachute Canada Safe Kids Week website on April 18, 2016. Order your toolkit and join Northern Health as we work together to keep our children safe!

Our winter seasons are long in the north, so taking the time each spring to review safe activity and play with our families is worth it!

Amy Da Costa

About Amy Da Costa

Amy Da Costa has worked in Public Health for 12 years. She recently joined the Population Health team as a part-time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. Amy lives in Kitimat with her husband and two children. They like to camp, swim, and cook as a family.


Thinking about kids’ safety

Graphic that reads: helmets reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by up to 80%

Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits. Safe Kids Week is a great chance to ask ourselves what we can do to lower those numbers and prevent tragic injuries and death.

“Let’s be careful out there.” This mantra, going back to the 1980s police drama Hill Street Blues, resonates to this day. Consider that preventable injuries kill more Canadian children than any single disease and kill more youth than all other causes combined. Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits.

These figures come from Parachute, a national non-profit organization that describes itself as dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives through education and advocacy. It is also behind Safe Kids Week, which kicks off today and runs from May 4-10. This annual event strives to make us more aware of the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries. This year’s theme focuses on cycling and road safety.

Staying safe is an important message to communicate with children. What better way than to start with parents who are role models who influence the behaviours of their children. After all, why wear a helmet on the bike when mom doesn’t? Why stop at intersections if dad seems to just roll through?

There are a number of messages and recommendations aligned with the message of Safe Kids Week, starting with protecting your head. Wear a helmet! It should fit properly and be worn as designed because that protection cuts the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%!

Bikes should fit the kid. Make sure that your child’s bike is the right size for them, that the tires are properly inflated and the brakes work as intended. This is a great way to involve children in maintenance and awareness and it’s fun for them, too. It also helps if your child knows about the rules of the road and understands bicycle safety. Even a four-year-old can learn to stop and look before crossing a road and know to gear up before riding (even if they’re too young to be crossing the road alone).

Parent with a helmet adjusting their child's helmet. Text reads: Be a good "roll" model.

How can you be a good role model for kids? Do you wear a helmet? Obey the rules of the road?

Part of knowing the rules of the road includes knowing to ride on the right side, in the same direction as traffic, but also to stay as far right as possible. And kids should have a bell to announce their presence, especially when they are passing.

Though not a focus of the Parachute Safe Kids Week this year, we also include trampolines for special attention. A recent study by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit of children admitted to BC Children’s Hospital found trampoline-related injuries occurred at a rate of 14.1 per 1,000 cases treated at BC Children’s Hospital emergency department (no other hospital was tracked).

Of the injuries identified as trampoline-related, fractures were the most common, followed by bruises and abrasions and sprains. The most likely points of injury were the ankle, elbow and head.

Sure, trampolines can be dangerous, but we realize they are also a lot of fun. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid injury. Safety increases with smart use: limit trampolines to one person at a time; don’t jump onto or off of the trampoline; avoid flips and somersaults which can lead to over-extension of the cervical spine. Active adult supervision is also important.

Summer is a great time to be a kid and helping them to be safe can mean that it will all be fun and games!

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie grew up in rural Newfoundland and moved to B.C. in 2003. After graduating from the nursing program at Thompson Rivers University in 2007 she moved to Prince George to start her career. She has a passion for population and public health and is the Regional Lead for Sexual and Reproductive Health. After falling in love with the north she purchased a rural property and began to build her hobby farm and family. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found happily doing something outside on her farm with her family.


Safe Kids Week 2015: Cycling and road safety

RCMP officer and youth wearing helmets on skateboards.

This year, Safe Kids Week is looking at cycling and road safety with an emphasis on helmets, safe road users, and parents as role models. Look for safety events happening in your community or inspire others and organize an event of your own!

I’m so happy when I see children pulling into school grounds, parks and friends’ houses on their bikes, skateboards and scooters. Who among us can’t identify with the exhilaration of the wind whipping at your face as you pedal and push your way along the streets? The freedom of the open road – there’s nothing quite like it.

Recognizing that children are particularly vulnerable road users and knowing that injuries are the leading cause of death and disability to children, this year Parachute’s Safe Kids Week is promoting awareness of cycling and road safety across Canada. Please take a moment to consider and plan for how you and your community can join in this national campaign running May 4-10, 2015.

This year’s Safe Kids Week theme will focus on:

  • Helmets
  • Safe road users such as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians
  • Parents as role models and influencers

Parachute can support your community Safe Kids Week activities. Check out their website for many great resources including an online toolkit, a backgrounder on cycling and road safety, and an event guide.


Make sure that your children cultivate a love not only for physical activity and the outdoors, but for enjoying these activities safely!

Bodies are made to move and regular physical activity is critical to healthy child development. Every time a child steps out onto a street or sidewalk with family and friends, abilities are tested and realized, memories are made. Encouraging and building on a love for walking, running, biking and skateboarding safely and without injury are priceless gifts to our children. Join us in promoting cycling and road safety in your community by participating in Safe Kids Week 2015. For more information, please visit Parachute and

Denise Foucher

About Denise Foucher

Denise is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about working towards health and wellness for everyone in Northern B.C. When not at work, Denise can be found out at the lake, walking her dog, planning her next travel adventure, or snuggled in a cozy chair with a good book.