With the weather getting warmer, children will be spending more time outside, enjoying some of their favorite sports like football, soccer, and basketball. Kids love sports! It teaches them teamwork and planning strategies, and helps build friendships. And as much as kids like sports, teenagers love learning to drive and aim to receive independence from their parents via a driver’s license. This summer teens will be putting their pedals to the metal and test driving their new skills. So, since the spring and summer are so much fun for children of all ages, everyone should also be wary of the dangers that blows to the head in tackle sports and car crashes can have on children. Children from the ages of 0 to 19 have a greater risk for brain injuries than any other age, according to The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA).
According to Forbes, “[Of the}More than 55,000 teenage drivers and their passengers who were seriously injured in auto accidents during 2009 and 2010, 30 percent suffered acute head injuries, including concussions, skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries.”
Since playing sports and getting into car accidents are leading factors for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in children, parents should keep an eye on their children's behavior in case of head injury. The BIAA gives the following brain injury symptoms that parents should look out for that could impair a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional being.
Symptoms of Child Brain Injuries
|PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS||COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENTS||EMOTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS|
|speech||short term memory deficits||mood swings|
|hearing||slowness of thinking||self-centeredness|
|headaches||limited attention span||anxiety|
|motor coordination||impairments of perception||depression|
|spasticity of muscles||communication skills||lowered self-esteem|
|paresis or paralysis||planning||sexual dysfunction|
|balance||reading||lack of motivation|
|fatigue||judgment||difficulty controlling emotions|
Brain injuries can affect a child in multiple ways, as shown in the above brain injury symptoms chart. Collectively, these TBI symptoms can affect a child’s school work, social life, and general way of life. And since the recent news about the NFL concussion scandals, TBIs have become household dinner table talk. All of the negative TBI press has caused parents to become more involved in their children’s physical activities and become reluctant to let their children play sports or learn how to drive. While it’s disheartening to kids to have their parents deny their enrollment in football camp, these parents may be making the right choice. After all, “Each year an average of 62,000 children sustain brain injuries requiring hospitalization as a result of motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports injuries, physical abuse and other causes. A staggering 564,000 children are seen in hospital emergency departments for brain injury and released,” the BIAA reports. And according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), “Sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.”
Brain injuries happen, and they are an injury that nobody expects could happen to them. But for children with brain injuries, it’s even worse. The BIAA reports that, “The brain of a child is continuing to develop. The assumption used to be a child with a brain injury would recover better than an adult because there was more “plasticity” in a younger brain, but recent research has shown that this is not the case. A brain injury actually has a more devastating impact on a child than an injury of the same severity on a mature adult.” This is why brain trauma is a topic that needs to be discussed more often and more openly by the public. The BIAA leads the charge in continuing the conversation on brain trauma during the month of March, which is Brain Injury Awareness month. While brain injury experts are studying how to heal traumatic brain injuries, it may be a while until a surefire treatment is created. Until then, since we can't bubble wrap children and forbid them to leave the house, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following tips to help prevent brain injury accidents from occurring.
How to Prevent Brain Injuries In Children
1. Buckling your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child's height, weight, and age).
2. Wearing a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
3. Never driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
4. Wearing a helmet and making sure your children wear helmets when:
Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle;
Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;
Using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;
Batting and running bases in baseball or softball;
Riding a horse; or
Skiing or snowboarding.
5. Making living areas safer for seniors, by:
Removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs and clutter in walkways;
Using nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors; Installing grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower;
Installing handrails on both sides of stairways;
Improving lighting throughout the home; and
Maintaining a regular physical activity program, if your doctor agrees, to improve lower body strength and balance.
6. Making living areas safer for children, by:
Installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; and
Using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around.
Making sure the surface on your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.
While the CDC's 5th tip may be for senior citizens, some of this advice may also be applicable to children. Plenty of children have fallen while running up and down the stairs without using handrails and many have tripped over a rug and hit their head. Vigorous play with toys used to entice children to take baths have also led to slip and fall accidents in the bath tub.
The fact of the matter is that children always face the risk of traumatic brain injuries because most children are physically active. By monitoring a child or teenager's physical, cognitive, and emotional behaviors following a head injury, parents can help their children immediately receive any medical attention they may need.
Summer fun like playing sports or taking road trips may lead to brain injury accidents. After all, sports and motor vehicle accidents are some of the leading factors for brain injuries in children and teens. If you or anyone you is suffering from a traumatic brain injury or any car accident injury, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC by calling 844.4MI.FIRM today. Our brain injury lawyers are available for a free legal consultation.