Children should be encouraged to stay physically active, particularly as we now know how vital exercise is in promoting health and preventing obesity. Play is also essential for a child’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.
Although children are improving their skills every day they still need constant attention and supervision to stay safe. However, the unfortunate truth is that sometimes children get seriously injured and there is nothing you could have done to prevent this from happening.
Among children, traumatic injuries can double during summer months. Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in children worldwide. The leading causes of unintentional injury in pediatric age can include drowning, poisoning, suffocation, fires, burns, falls, and bicycle and all traffic-related accidents.
Head trauma is one of the most common serious reason children are taken to emergency rooms. Head injury, often referred to as traumatic brain injury (TBI), depending on the extent of the lesion, is any kind of damage that disrupts the normal function of the brain.
TBI is a serious health concern, especially among young children and teens. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, TBI accounts for an estimated 2,685 deaths, 37,000 hospitalizations and 435,000 emergency room visits among children ages 14 and younger.
What causes a head injury
TBI occurs when a sudden, external, physical assault damaged the skull, brain, or other tissue and blood vessels in the head. Trauma to the head can have serious effects on a child’s mental and physical development. There are many causes of head injury in children. Incidents that have a higher risk of brain injury include:
- Struck by/against events
- Motor vehicle or bicycle accidents
- Physical Assault
- Sport-related accidents
Falls are the most common mechanism of head injuries in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as head injury, sprains and fractures. Falls are the most common cause of TBI, with a significant risk of long-term sequelae among children.
Every hour, nearly 50 children visit emergency departments with an injury related to bikes, scooters, skateboards or rollerblades -many of them with broken bones or head injury, as reported Safe Kids Worldwide. Although wearing a helmet is the best way to reduce head injuries, there are parents who recognize that their children do not wear a helmet when on wheels. This explains why head trauma tops the list of severe injuries involving the use of electric scooters – injuries that in many cases could have been prevented with the use of a helmet.
Effects of childhood traumatic brain injury
Some of the critical elements to a child’s prognosis are the severity of the injury and the extent of the head trauma. However, young children who suffer a TBI, including mild concussion from a blow to the head, are more likely to produce negative outcomes on cognitive, emotional, and physical variables. Many concussions occur without noticeable signs such as disorientation or slurred speech and for that reason go unnoticed and untreated. The danger of an unrecognized concussion is that it increases the risk of lasting damage. Consequently, head trauma associated with symptoms of a concussion such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, seizures, loss of postural stability, changes in visual acuity or double vision, should be evaluated promptly by a medical professional.
The long-term effects of traumatic brain injury include difficulties in reasoning, language, or emotions and sensations. Some evidence shows that repeated mild brain injuries occurring over an extended period of time could be associated with the development of a neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. TBI can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s diseases.
While there are still many unknowns when it comes to the incidence and prevalence of TBI, the latest findings point to the importance of minimizing the occurrence of head trauma in childhood.
Preventing head injuries in children
Many head injuries can be prevented. Parents should exercise caution at all times around fall hazards such as stairs and playground equipment. An extra set of eyes could make all the difference.
The best way to protect your child from a brain injury is to try to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are a few general prevention tips:
- Always make sure your child wears a helmet or headgear during a sporting activity like biking, skating, hockey, horse riding, skiing or snowboarding
- Teach older children to avoid uneven or unpaved surfaces when cycling or skateboarding
- Follow all rules and warning signs at water parks and swimming pools
- prevent falls at home by installing window guards, non-slip floor mats, and safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs
- Do not let children use playgrounds with hard ground surfaces
It can be challenging for the entire family when a child has a brain injury. Even after a child’s medical condition has stabilized, their doctor’s appointments and rehabilitation will continue to require additional time, resources and attention.
Legal help is available
Pediatric injury cases, including brain injuries suffered by children and toddlers, require medical knowledge, access to experts, and experience litigating these particular situations. If your child has suffered a brain injury, a negligent party or defective product may have contributed to this tragic event. In these instances, you have the right to take legal action and probably a good chance of winning a case for negligence. Helping a child get back onto the right track with the best medical treatment possible, secured by a fair settlement or jury verdict, is the main goal for a lawyer dealing with cases of pediatric brain injury, even though these cases are more complicated, as they require attorneys to learn a lot of the medicine and the science on TBI in order to lead evidence to create a credible case whom the jurors are motivated to support.