There has been a lot of media attention recently linking concussions received by professional athletes to more serious brain-injuries. You might have used this information as a spring-board for discussing with your children the dangers associated with contact sports and the importance of safety equipment like helmets and pads. However, it is important to remember that it is possible for children to be injured, sometimes permanently, in a myriad of other ways. Thankfully, Heads Up to Parents, an organization focused on preventing child brain injuries, has developed a website, www.headsuptoparents.org, that provides parents with a wide variety of articles and safety tips.
There are a number of steps that parents can take to help protect their children from head injuries. First, and perhaps most importantly, is being able to recognize the signs of a concussion. A concussion that is not treated early has the potential to develop into a much more serious brain injury. The classic signs that your child might have a concussion are headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty thinking clearly, and sensitivity to noise and light. If your child is complaining of any of these symptoms, you should tell him or her to avoid further physical activity and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Child head injuries commonly occur when children are riding bikes, participating in sports activities, or playing on playgrounds. Before your child or teen rides a bike, you should make sure that he or she is wearing a properly fitted helmet. Though there is no “concussion-proof” helmet, wearing a helmet can help reduce the risk of severe brain injury and skull fracture. Advise your child to wear bright clothes to increase his or her visibility and to avoid riding a bike at night. Additionally, you should check your child’s clothing to ensure that there are no shoelaces or drawstrings that can get caught in a bike chain. You should also check the bike’s tires and brakes to make sure everything is in working order.
Helmets are especially important in sports activities that involve physical contact, like football. Before your child gets on the field, make sure that his or her helmet fits well and is the appropriate helmet for the activity. Check the helmet’s condition – a poorly maintained helmet will provide substantially less protection than a helmet that is in good condition. It is also important that the sports team have some sort of plan in place in the event that one of the players suffers a head injury during the game. One phrase every parent should remember is, “When in doubt, sit them out!”
Playgrounds are also a common source of child head injuries. If you take your child to a playground, you should use playgrounds with soft material under them, like mulch or sand, as opposed to grass or dirt. If the playground has any platforms or ramps that are high off the ground, they should have guard rails to prevent falls. Additionally, you should check the playground equipment to make sure it is in good condition. Finally, you should closely supervise your child while he or she is using the playground and be ready to lend any assistance he or she may require.
For more information on preventing child head injuries and more safety tips, check out www.headsuptoparents.org.
About the Author: Jamie Kessel is a personal injury lawyer with the law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. He primarily works out of the Short Pump and Richmond offices. Jamie is experienced in handling complex personal injury cases involving child care injuries, distracted driving, brain injury, and wrongful deaths.