The subject of kids and concussions came up during a recent health seminar, and the facts we learned are stunning! Most people don’t like thinking about concussions or any head injuries that could happen to their children, but as children’s summer camps are coming to a close and the very active youth sports seasons are about to begin, we are faced with the looming specter of possible head and traumatic brain injuries. No one wants to worry about their or anyone’s children getting hurt from head injuries, whether it’s while playing at the playground, participating in swimming and diving, playing basketball, doing gymnastics or playing any contact sports. No one likes to consider the possibility of a concussion, brain damage or death of any child or young person.
But, the truth is we need to consider facts like these: Children account for 90 percent of hospital emergency room visits for sports-related concussions, according to figures in the 2008 emergency department database maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States. …Recent data shows that, on average, approximately 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually.”
Beyond knowing the facts, there are a few basic things CDC advocates that parents, family members and caregivers can do to help children to help reduce children’s head injuries:
- Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, booster seat, or car seat, whichever is appropriate for their age, height and weight.
- Children should start using a booster seat when they outgrow their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 pounds). They should continue to ride in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit your child properly, typically when they are 4’9” tall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)recommends booster seats for children until they are at least 8 years of age or 4’9” tall. All children ages 12 years or younger should ride in the back seat. Putting children in the back seat eliminates the injury risk of deployed front passenger-side airbags and places children in the safest part of the vehicle in the event of a crash. For details about safely securing your child in an automobile, see: www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS
- Make 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.