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ThinkFirst

ThinkFirst Achieve Brain & Spine is dedicated to injury prevention of brain and spinal injuries. Our mission is to prevent brain, spinal cord and other traumatic injury through education, research and advocacy. We focus on reaching out to our community through educational programs based on the health belief model. Our targeted approach is tailored to the demographic we are speaking to and the epidemiology of the injury patterns is taken into account.

Dr. Deven Khosla, MD FAANS founded the Santa Monica chapter of ThinkFirst. He is a board certified Neurosurgeon with 19 years of experience with head and spine injuries. He has taken care of patients in a level 2 trauma center and also community hospitals. He has seen first hand how a moment can change a whole life and also the person’s family and friends’ lives. Most of these unfortunate cases of head injury or spinal cord injury are in preventable scenarios but it requires education to the population at large so that they can make good choices. ThinkFirst Achieve Brain and Spine is the Santa Monica based chapter for ThinkFirst, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


As you might know, head injury is:

  • the leading cause of death for children, teens and young adults (ages 1-44)
  • Fifth leading cause of death overall
  • Most injuries are preventable
  • Highest risk groups: ages 15-24 and 5-14
  • Brain and spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating, leading to permanent disability and death

With the rise of shared mobility means such as shared scooters and bikes, we need to do research into the effect on the epidemiology of head injury as well. We also need to gather data to present to the companies that could be part of the solution for head injury and spine injury prevention.


Our ongoing projects include:

  • Reduction of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in CA through state-wide ThinkFirst (TF) Chapter coordination, TF program implementation and injury prevention awareness campaigns. Educational programs based on the Health Belief Model will focus on occupant protection, sober driving, the prevention of speeding and distracted driving, increased helmet usage and pedestrian safety. TF Achieve Brain & Spine will provide educational primary prevention programs to schools and community groups.
  • to increase injury prevention efforts, with an emphasis on reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries, especially due to impaired and distracted driving and unrestrained occupants. TF Chapters will offer injury prevention presentations including ThinkFirst For Teens (TFFT), ThinkFirst For Youth (TFFY) and ThinkFirst For Kids (TFFK) to a variety of age groups.
  • TFFT's is primarily presented to high school Health or Drivers Education classes. As part of this presentation, Voices for Injury Prevention (VIP) speakers, who have sustained a brain or spinal cord injury, effectively share their story. VIP speakers partner with a healthcare professional to help this high-risk populations understand the realities and consequences of making unsafe choices, and the benefits to “Thinking First” to make safe choices.
  • TFFY, a curriculum intended to reach 9 to 14 year olds, was developed to augment ThinkFirst For Teens. This program targets the pre-teen and young teen that ride with older siblings and that are eager to be the next driver behind the wheel. Safety lessons incorporate understanding anatomy and the need to protect one's self, as they become more independent and are making choices in the company of their peers.
  • As it is important to instill the understanding of vulnerability to injury at a young age, TFFK's is for grades one, two, and three. It is a six-lesson program covering injury prevention, including curriculum on vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle safety, with a strong emphasis on booster seat, seat belt and helmet use. Our intent is to make this learning experience fun, yet meaningful, and to involve not only teachers in the education process, but also, parents and the community.
  • The goal of this project is to decrease traffic-related injuries and fatalities by increasing public knowledge as to the importance of making safe choices pertaining to occupant protection and traffic safety in general. It is also our goal to promote attitudes and behavior that reduce the risk for traffic-related injuries through educational programs and community awareness campaigns that focus on wearing seat belts, driving sober and without distraction and the importance of using helmets, booster seats and car seats.

Specific initiatives and objective we have:

  • Helmet local first graders completing TFFK in schools with funding pending designated grantors.
  • Participate in community health fairs and occupant protection events
  • Seek grant funds for helmeting first graders in TFFK's schools through community organizations, businesses, PTAs and hospital auxilliaries.
  • Obtain school permission to order helmets for students.
  • Conduct helmet fitting and distribution events at all TFFK schools that are funded.
  • Serve as a bicycle safety and helmet advocate/resource and attend events as requested to promote this traffic safety initiative.

Additional goals also include:

  • Research the changing demographics of head and spine injury with the rise of shared mobility devices. With the study of local emergency room visits, we can establish the means to prevent injuries resulting from them specifically. We want to work to establish a standard for how we can have the industries be a part of the solution of access to these new means of transportation.
  • Serve the public by developing and distributing effective injury prevention educational materials
  • Provide training and technical support to chapters
  • Market the mission and programs of ThinkFirst on a national and global level
  • Support injury prevention-related research and public policy initiatives

Data to support the ThinkFirst model was shown in:

  • 2007 — Gerhardstein, SCI Nursing
    • TFFT pre-test, post-test study of 500 teens
    • Importance of seatbelt use seen as very important: increased 20%
    • Stated will always wear seatbelt: increased 23%
    • Very important to wear helmet on bike: increased 38%
    • Believe making safe choices is very important: increased 22%
  • 1989Neuwelt et al - Neurosurgery

Data from Original Missouri SCI indicated an increase in knowledge and improved attitudes and behavior about SCI in intervention schools compared to control schools – three years after exposure

With this background, we would request financial support for this educational mission that would fund the salary for Pediatric Nurse Educator, Occupational therapist, Voices for Injury Prevention stipends, Travel costs, and Research initiatives and educational and usual supplies. We anticipate this work to reach a population of 750,000-1,000,000 people living in the West Side of Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

We will be partnering with local hospital systems and registries to acquire the data and perform data analysis with a research analyst.

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