Prevent Head Injuries in Your Child

Posted by Janet Heinsler on March 13, 2015

As most parents know, no matter how careful you are, your child is liable to get hurt sometime in their lifetime. One type of injury your child may get that could affect their life forever is that of a head injury. Head injuries occur when a child’s head undergoes a blow of sufficient force to do damage to the skull and often times the brain.

Since the skull is the protective covering of the brain, any blow to it can cause damage to the brain. A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain. This is often caused by a blow to the skull causing the brain to hit the inside of the skull. Concussions can cause a temporary impairment of processes such as thinking, memory and speech as well as other behaviors that the brain controls.
There are over 2 million traumatic brain injuries a year (one every 15 seconds). Of these 2 million, 500,000 need to be hospitalized and another person dies every five minutes from a head injury. Furthermore, another person is permanently disabled every five minutes from a head injury.

Parents need to be concerned that their children don’t end up with brain damage due to an injury. The most common way kids receive a brain injury is by traffic accidents (52%), followed by falling (21%), pedestrian and bicycle accidents (10%), sports injuries and child abuse (6%).

What can you do as a parent to reduce the chances of your child incurring a head injury? The following are some steps you as a parent can take to help prevent head trauma in your child.
Car Safety. It is important that you use child safety seats until your child is old enough or tall enough not to need one. The following rules apply to the use of child safety seats as well as general safety rules for kids and cars. Rules concerning safety seats will vary from state to state because there are no federal rules governing this.

In general kids who are below the age of 13 are not allowed to ride in the front seat. This will vary from state to state, so make sure you know what the law is in your state. Kids who ride in the back seat are 30% less likely to get a serious injury.  In my state the law requires children to be in a federally approved car seat until the age of four. From ages four to 8 they are required to be in a booster seat that matches their height and weight. Once they reach the height of 4ft. 9 inches they can wear a regular seat belt. Failure to follow these rules can be fined and are placing their children in increased danger.
Bike Safety.  Most deaths and head injuries due to bicycle accidents are due to a head injury. Because of this, all people riding a bicycle should wear a helmet. Those kids under the age of one should not be placed in a carrier seat on a bicycle. Only 21 states require people to wear helmets; regardless if it is a law or not, you kids should be wearing a helmet that has been inspected by the national safety council.
In addition to making your children wear a helmet, you should make sure that they have the necessary skills to ride a bike. Kids under the age of three do not have the necessary skills to even ride a tricycle. For children three to five, they can usually ride a bike with training wheels but should not ride in traffic. Although children six and above can usually control a two wheeler with hand breaks they should not be allowed to ride in traffic until they demonstrate that they know the rules of the rode and are able to ride safely in traffic.
General Safety. Make sure your kids wear helmets that fit correctly for the sports that require them. Do not allow babies to walk in walkers with wheels and make sure you have guards on the windows so kids cannot fall out of them. Also, protect any stairway by placing a gate at the top so that the kids will not fall down the stairs.
You can do a lot to protect your child from a head injury. Hopefully you will take these precautions and prevent them from getting one. If your child, despite all your efforts, gets one make sure you know what to look for and get it treated promptly.