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MRC News

Published on July 15, 2001
Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service

CLINTON, Miss.—Erin Pryor, a physical therapist at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, and Fair, a golden retriever, will show 120 day-campers at the Clinton YMCA how they work with spinal cord and brain-injured patients at the Jackson Hospital.

Their presentation, set for Monday, July 16, at 1 p.m., is part of Think First, an MRC-sponsored injury prevention program aimed at young children and teenagers that tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety.

“Think First speakers volunteer their time to encourage others to wear safety belts when driving, helmets when riding bicycles and motorcycles and to think about what they’re doing before they get into any potentially dangerous situation,” said Lauren Fairburn, Methodist Rehab’s Think First coordinator.

“We want to work closely with schools and other health care professionals to do all we can to prevent traumatic, often life-changing injuries. Children are very responsive when they meet our speakers. They really seem to understand the message and we hope they learn to think first about safety and injury prevention.”

Fair is a canine companion and was trained in Santa Rosa, Calif., to work with patients who have disabilities or limitations. The four-year-old dog is the only facility dog in Mississippi and has been working at Methodist Rehabilitation Center for two years.

Each year an estimated 500,000 people sustain brain and spinal cord injuries in the United States. The most frequent causes of these injuries are automobile crashes, falls, athletic injuries, especially diving, and violence. Children and teens are at high-risk for these devastating injuries, many of which are preventable.

Think First speakers, including accident victims, physical therapists, paramedics and physicians, are available to speak to assemblies at elementary and high schools in central Mississippi. Call 601-364-3451 for more information about Think First.