Preventing Child Brain Injuries

Brain Injury Blog by Ken Levinson

May 5, 2011

Everyday tips for child brain injury safety

Over half a million children are taken to emergency rooms each year as a result of head injuries and, out of those trips to the ER, 7,000 children die as a result of traumatic child brain injury. While the number of children who die of child brain injury annually makes up a small percentage of the nation’s child population, about 30,000 children wind up permanently disabled as a result of their head injuries.

Families watching their children heal and struggle with speech and memory problems not only suffer from emotional pain, they also have to deal with a heavy financial burden, so it’s imp­­ortant for parents to learn how to prevent child brain injuries.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of everyday tips parents can use to keep their children safe from child brain injury. Please read it alone first and then with your children to make sure they understand how to stay safe when you’re not around.

Walking and Biking

Sure, walking or biking might seem like mundane activities for a child, but a few simple safety measures can reduce the risk of a child head injury from a car accident.

Be sure your children always look both ways before crossing a busy intersection, even if the crosswalk signal says they can walk.  Unfortunately, not all drivers obey stop signs and red lights, and not all truck drivers can see your kids below them.

Before your children leave the house, check to see that they aren’t wearing pants that are too long and that their shoestrings are tied tightly to prevent them from tripping.  If your kids are going out when it’s dusk or dark, make sure they are wearing bright or reflective clothing.

And it should go without saying, but when you and your children are riding bikes, always wear a helmet.

Playground

Before you send your children to a new school, always inspect the playground equipment. How high will your children be able to climb? Does the playground equipment get overcrowded? These and similar issues should all be addressed with an eye for child head injury.

According to PreventInjury.org, playground injuries are the leading cause of injury to children in childcare and to children ages 5 to 14 in schools. Approximately 70 percent of playground equipment-related injuries involve falls to the surface and 10 percent involve falls onto equipment.

Also, lack of supervision is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries so it’s important that parents stay proactive in educating their children about playground safety and monitoring playground equipment for defects.

Sports

Children who participate in sports are much more prone to child head injuries than most. The CDC says that 65% of sports and recreation-related concussions seen in emergency departments each year occur among children ages 5–18.

If your children are starting a new sport, look into the proper headgear they should wear. Also, observe your children’s sports practices to make sure they and their coaches have head and brain injury safety in mind.

At Home

To round out this article, let’s look at child safety tips for preventing head injuries at home. Take a look around your house. Are heavy, unstable objects properly secured so they won’t fall? Are there spots your children can climb to unsafe heights? If you answer yes to either of these questions, correct these problems immediately.

Also, make sure the cords attached to your blinds are safely wrapped and secured at a height your children can’t reach. These cords pose a strangulation hazard that can cut oxygen off from your child’s brain, resulting in a child brain injury.

When you send your children out the door everyday, the last thing you probably think is that they might sustain a child brain injury. And that’s a good thing.

We don’t want to raise our children living in fear, but at the same time we want to teach them good safety habits that will allow them to enjoy a happy and safe childhood. Be proactive in your children’s lives and find that balance of too safe and not safe enough.

Ken Levinson is a Chicago-based child injury attorney and child safety advocate. If your child has been injured or worse, please call Ken Levinson at Joseph, Lichtenstein and Levinson at 312-346-9270 or e-mail ken@thesafestline.com. Although based in Chicago, Ken works on child injury cases across the country. If your child has been injured by an Arm’s Reach Infant Bed-Side Sleeper, contact Ken immediately.

7 responses to “Preventing Child Brain Injuries”

  1. Hi Ken,
    I addition to your tips we can also:
    Keep remotes and other items of interest off of furniture that will entice curious children to climb. Anchor all furniture to the floor. Anchor large items that rest on furniture such as TVs and DVD players. Be present with children at all times in rooms that are not child-proofed.

  2. Annie Pixley says:

    Ken,
    Welcome to our blog! Great introduction to your area of expertise. I particularly was impressed with the basics of home safety…the little things sure do present the biggest problems. When I was a nanny, I became very aware of just the things you wrote about, i.e. heavy, unbalanced objects just waiting for a toddler to climb up and the perils of the blind cords. I was diligent in protecting my little “charges” from those dangers. Thank you for bringing these to our attention. Keep writing.

  3. Jill Sternberg says:

    Mr. Levinson, Great article. We,as parents, really need to focus on the points made in this article.

  4. Yelena Ruchayskaya says:

    I agree with Danylo, little things can make a difference when it comes to child safety!

    What I enjoyed the most about this article is the fact that Ken brings out the simple things that parents tend to overlook. When one (myself for example) thinks about an injury and how it happens, it is always viewed as an event that is unique and rare, instead of millions of possibilities how an injury can occur. One that note, thank you Ken for pointing out how we can improve child safety, in and out of our homes.

    Great article, Ken!

    ~Yelena

  5. My grandfather always used to tell me, take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. I think this article illustrates that point well. Little things can make a big difference when it comes to child safety.

  6. Jim Zouras says:

    Having known Ken in a personal and professional capacity for over 12 years, I can attest that he is one of the premier child injury advocates in the United States. You, the general public and anyone else who cares about child safety are fortunate to have Ken’s insights and contributions to your blog.

  7. Marie G. Cooney says:

    Dear Ken,
    Thanks for putting together this great list of tips regarding children and protection from brain injury. It amazes me how many adults still believe their children don’t “need” helmets, because we didn’t have to use them as children. The world has changed so much, and even then it was a danger. Good points for parents, teachers, coaches, and ALL who care about children!
    Marie

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