How to keep kids safe from traumatic brain injuries this summer

About 1.7 million people in the U.S. suffer a traumatic brain injury each year, and nearly half a million children under 15 visit an emergency room for TBI. A brain injury is traumatic if it disrupts the normal function of the brain.

Dr. Michael Egnor, vice-chairman of neurology at New York’s Stony Brook University Hospital and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, provides ideas for how parents can help protect their children from brain injuries this summer.

Families are going on more bike rides, but not everyone knows that bicycle accidents are most likely to happen within five blocks of home. “Make sure your child wears a helmet every time he or she rides a bicycle, scooter or skateboard,” Egnor said. “We’re seeing the most head injuries right now in skateboarding, especially in young teens, who might think it’s just not cool to wear a helmet.”

Each year more than 200,000 children suffer from injuries on playgrounds in the U.S., according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The main cause is falls. Egnor suggested looking for shredded mulch, pea gravel, crushed stone and other loose surfaces and being extra careful on asphalt and concrete.

Parents with older children and teens should be aware of possible diving accidents. “In about 50 percent of cases of catastrophic injuries, alcohol or drugs is involved,” Egnor said. “Ensure that responsible adults supervise pool parties and other events where swimming and diving are involved.”

Egnor also warned of concussions during summer sports. He said, “The few serious injuries we treat from organized sports are usually accidents that probably could not have been prevented,” he said, while many of the concussions he treats are mild because many sports require helmets.

Dealing with serious injuries quickly is key, Egnor said. “The full extent of the injuries may not appear immediately.” (Read more)

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