ThinkFirst Northern Nevada

History Behind ThinkFirst

ThinkFirst Northern Nevada was established in 2011

The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation, formerly known as the National Head and Spinal Cord Injury Prevention Program, was first implemented nationally in 1986. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) directed two neurosurgeons, E. Fletcher Eyster, MD, of Pensacola, Florida and Clark Watts, MD, of Columbia, Missouri to develop a national injury prevention program based on their previous prevention efforts in their respective communities.

The AANS and CNS initiated the development of the national program due to their concern for their patients with brain and spinal cord injuries. These groups share the belief that prevention is the only cure, and that neurosurgeons have a duty to try to prevent these traumatic injuries. Eyster and Watts saw the assignment from the two largest professional neurosurgical organizations as an opportunity to recruit other health professional to undertake public education prevention efforts, as well as to address public policy issues related to injury prevention.

Each locally established chapter was sponsored by a neurosurgeon committed to public education and injury prevention. The replicable program materials consisted of a teen-oriented program, reinforcement materials, and a program to influence public attitudes and legislative policy. ThinkFirst’s initial program, ThinkFirst For Teens, was offered to middle and high school audiences to teach young people about personal vulnerability, the consequences of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and easy methods for preventing injuries.

The tremendous response to the program throughout the country led to its institutionalization by the AANS and CNS. Their continued support is a statement of the national neurosurgical community’s ongoing commitment to public health and injury prevention.

The efficacy of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation has been demonstrated through its increasing acceptance by school educators, student evaluations, letters from parents and public officials, adoption by professional organizations, the measurement of attitude changes toward injury by students, and the increased usage of safety belts and other safety behaviors in targeted age groups.

National and international recognition

The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation has been recognized in many ways over the years for outstanding injury prevention programs. Early on, ThinkFirst was awarded the 1988 Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives and the 1989 Award for Excellence in Prevention Education from the American Medical Association. In 2000, Life Space Adaptation Projects of the University of Toronto identified ThinkFirst as an example of “Best Practice” in the category of Comprehensive Community-Based Prevention Strategies. Two years later, the California Department of Education recognized ThinkFirst For Kids as a research-validated program and accepted it into its California Healthy Kids Resource Center, making the curriculum and its supplementary materials available for loan throughout the California educational system.

Most recently, ThinkFirst was very honored to be presented with the 2009 Distinguished Service Award from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons at their annual meeting in New Orleans- a meeting of over 3,000 neurosurgeons!

A new era

Today, the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation offers research-validated multi-level educational programs that have reached millions of young people nationally and internationally, has had major influences on public policy initiatives, and continues to expand to reach those most vulnerable to traumatic injuries. By virtue of their work in treating patients who have sustained traumatic injuries, physicians and allied health professional are natural spokespersons for prevention. Recently, ThinkFirst has expanded its efforts to encourage all health professionals to get involved. ThinkFirst provides health professionals with the training, tools, and support to assist chapters in spreading the prevention message in their communities, in turn, lowering the incidence, cost and devastation of traumatic injury.

Mission Statement

To educate our community in the area of brain and spinal cord injury awareness and prevention.

Our Vision

We aim to get into the head of every kid to decrease trauma admissions.

Our priorities are to serve the following:

  • Beneficiaries: Children, teens, adults, families and communities
  • Advocates: ThinkFirst Network – Chapter Directors, Schools, VIPs, Physicians and Health Care Professionals
  • Sponsors: Hospitals, Medical Associations, Government Organizations, and Corporations

As Leaders of ThinkFirst our passion for injury prevention will guide our actions in the following ways.

We must:

  • Provide programs that are of the highest impact and quality
  • Ensure programs are scientifically validated as effective
  • Act socially responsible
  • Lead by example in our actions
  • Value innovative and trusted leadership
  • Respect the resources provided by our sponsors
  • By using funds wisely to meet the needs of today and tomorrow
  • By being transparent in our financial reporting

ThinkFirst Northern Nevada is a 501(c)(3) non-for profit charity. Donations are tax deductible.

Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Facts


Each year an estimated 500,000 persons sustain permanent brain and spinal cord injuries in the United States.


Correct use of an approved helmet is the best way to protect your head and brain from sports related injuries.


Approximately half of patients with a severe head injury will need surgery to remove or repair brain bleeding or bruising.