The article that inspired this post was written by Jeanne Dupuis and was posted on Social Moms. Text under the heading “Article” was written by Dupuis. Although Brain Injury Awareness Month occurs in March, it is important to remember that brain injuries can occur any time, to anyone. Children and teenagers are especially susceptible to brain injury because they spend a lot of time skateboarding, kick boarding, skating, rollerblading, biking, and engaging in high-risk sports.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur when a person receives a blow, jolt or bump to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. No two people will experience the injury in the exact same way. Some will simply need to rest and give their brain time to heal while the initial incident is the beginning of a lifelong process for others.
One need only review the sobering statistics to understand that this is a serious issue. A staggering 2.4 million Americans will sustain a brain injury each year with at least four occurring every minute. Of these people, 475,000 are children. Sadly, 5.3 million live with life-long disability related to their injury. 52,000 people die from brain injuries each year, [and brain injury] accounts for 30.5% of all injury-related deaths in the United States.
Traumatic brain injuries are typically sustained during falls (35%), automobile accidents (17%), workplace accidents (16%), assaults (10%) and other causes (21%). Of the injuries that do occur, about 75% are concussions or other forms of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).
The Ways to Prevent Brain Injuries
Head injuries can genuinely occur almost anywhere which is why practicing general safety habits as you go about your daily life is the best plan of action. Here are some situation-specific suggestions to consider.
On the Road
First and foremost, never ever drink or use drugs and drive. Make sure your older kids understand the dangers associated with operating a vehicle while intoxicated or getting into a car with someone who has been consuming drugs or alcohol.
It’s equally important to make sure that your kids are properly restrained according to their age and stage. Small children need to be in a rear-facing car seat secured in a back seat of the vehicle. Follow manufacturer instructions for when kids can sit in forward-facing car seats or booster seats according to their age, height and weight. All children, 12 and under, should also sit in the back seat, wearing a seatbelt, since airbags can do them more harm than good.
Whenever your child is riding a bicycle, skateboard, motorcycle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle, they should be wearing a helmet. The same is true when they are engaging in contact sports such as skiing, hockey, football, baseball, snowboarding, or riding a horse.
Falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries and, while you cannot prevent every slip or stumble there are things that can be done to reduce the risk. If you have small children, install gates at the top and bottom of the stairs or at the entrance to any area that could be dangerous. Also, consider installing window guards to prevent falls from windows. Put non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower. Remove any unnecessary area rugs that kids can trip on. Improve lighting in dark areas of the home. [Place padding over sharp corners of tables.] Keep stairs and floors free of clutter. Have your children’s vision checked on a regular basis. Use playgrounds that have shock-absorbing materials on the ground.
The Warning Signs
Any time your child experiences a blow to the head or body it is a good idea to see a doctor. Additionally, there are some signs and symptoms to watch for when you are monitoring your child’s behavior after an injury.
It is unlikely that an infant and young child will be able to adequately explain how they are feeling but there are other ways to tell that something is amiss. You may want to take your child in for evaluation if you notice a change in eating or nursing habits, irritability, crying, sleep patterns, sadness or depression, focus, attention, or interest in their favorite activities or toys.
Other warning signs include loss of consciousness, memory or concentration problems, confusion, combativeness (or other unusual behavior), headache, dizziness, convulsions, slurred speech, nausea/vomiting, blurry vision, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, sensitivity to lights/sounds/smells, dilated pupil(s), clear fluids draining from nose/ears, weakness/numbness in fingers and toes, loss of coordination, mood changes, depression or anxiety, fatigue/drowsiness and difficulty sleeping.
With so many television shows sharing highlights of falls and wipeouts for their viewers’ entertainment, it can be easy to forget how dangerous those situations can be. Teach your children that regardless of how “funny” an accident may [appear] the possible injuries could be less than amusing. It’s better to overreact to a bump to the head than ignore a potentially life-threatening condition.
Thanks to Google for helping me find the pictures and article I used in this post; Jeanne Dupuis for writing the article; Social Moms for publishing the article; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the pictures and text I used in this post.
Jeanne Dupuis has been passionate about blogging for more than five years and has written on a variety of topics including entertainment, luxury travel, sports and video games. She holds a graduate degree in psychology and is a certified hypnotherapist. When she’s not spending time with her family, Dupuis enjoys reading, cooking and NHL hockey.