Understanding and Preventing Brain Injury in Children

Brain Injury Blog by Michael Pines

October 24, 2012

Understanding and Preventing Brain Injury in Children

If you’re a parent, you understand how important safety is to the well-being and protection of your child. And if you’re like most parents out there, going the extra mile to give your child the safe environment he or she deserves is no question – we do it because we love our kids.

So when an injury happens, we do everything we can to find the right treatment for our children so they can heal quickly, and most importantly, be restored to full health as soon as possible. But when a severe injury occurs, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the stakes get higher since the risk for permanent damage increases.

That’s why it’s never been more important to take action to help reduce your child’s risk for TBI. As a personal injury attorney in San Diego, I’ve worked with parents of children affected by traumatic brain injury for over 20 years. Every parent tragically wishes more could have been done prior to the accident – better child restraint, increased supervision, a more thorough health assessment, and so on. And while no accident is entirely preventable, you can take extra precaution today to avoid an accident. Here are the most common reasons brain injury in children occurs, and what you can do to stay one step ahead.

Brain injury in children

The Center for Disease and Control and Prevention reminds parents that children ages 0 to 4 and adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 are most likely to sustain a TBI from all other populations (with the exception of the elderly, which are also at high risk). While there are unique ways brain injury can happen, these are the most common way a TBI is sustained in children. Here’s what you need to know.

Falls. Kids will be kids, right? To an extent, yes – but parents are urged to pay careful supervision when children are climbing trees, roughhousing on furniture, or using equipment like small ladders or step stools. A fall from even a relatively short height can cause severe head injury. It is imperative that infants are supervised in high chairs and other common areas like beds or couches as they can easily roll off. Falling is the number one cause of TBIs in children.

Car accidents. There’s no doubt that car accidents are one of the leading causes of brain injury in children. The force of a car accident – whether great or small – can cause serious havoc on a child’s brain. Tragically, car accidents also lead to the most TBI-related deaths in children.

Football and other contact sports. Most parents know that football is a contact sport, so some mild injury is expected. However, researchers are finding now more than ever that repeated injury to the head can lead to long-term damage such as the neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. This debilitating brain injury atrophies the brain, leading to symptoms close to Alzheimer’s disease.

Bicycle accidents. Children by the thousands get admitted to emergency rooms across the U.S. for injuries arising from bicycle accidents.

Preventing brain injury in children

While no accident is entirely preventable, there are steps you can take to help prevent a child’s Tramatic Brain Injury. Here’s what you can do to keep your children safe – because after all, as parents, that’s what we ultimately strive to do.

Must. Wear. Helmets. Don’t even think about letting your child play sports like backyard football or bike riding without the use of a helmet. Even if it’s just “harmless” front yard play, don’t risk it. Equip your child with the proper gear including helmets to avoid injury.

Physical readiness for sports. Check with your child’s pediatrician to make sure your child is physically able to play sports. That’s why physicals are so important prior to the start of the child’s sport season.

Close supervision. It’s a given that parents must juggle a million things at once – but when it comes to your child’s safety, you can never really be too safe. Make sure a responsible adult is in close supervision when kids are playing outdoors or riding their bikes. When small children are placed in high chairs or on other furniture, do not take your eyes off of your baby. Do not leave your baby unattended for any reason as that’s when an accident most predictably occurs. It may sound obvious, but falling is the leading cause of TBIs in children.

Proper restraint. When driving, ALWAYS make sure your child is fitted into a proper car or booster seat depending on their age. Many companies also manufacture child seats well into age 12, and these seats are highly recommended since they absorb shock differently than an adult seatbelt, contributing to fewer injuries if an accident is sustained. Please make sure to keep your little one properly restrained.

Resources for parents of children with brain injury

To learn more about brain injury, check out the frequently asked questions on LA Publishing. You may also wish to contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for an extensive list of brain injury information. There you can find information on different kinds of brain injury, from concussions to hematomas and beyond.

Remember that while no accident is entirely preventable, you can take extra steps today to help reduce your child’s risk for TBI. Join us in our campaign to help stop traumatic brain injury by sharing this article with other parents, and help make a difference in your community.

About Michael Pines

Michael Pines founded the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC, in San Diego in 1992. Having worked with brain injury victims for over 20 years, Mike sees first-hand how incredibly devastating brain injury can be for individuals and families. He is an accident and injury prevention expert in San Diego, and on a campaign to end senseless injury one blog at a time.

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