Catherine McClung Smith, MD
Palmetto Health-USC Pediatric Neurosurgery
With spring and summer right around the corner, kids are getting back outside to play and participate in sports. Unfortunately, as they do so, there is greater potential for accidents and for them to experience a traumatic brain injury – what we call a TBI for short. TBIs are caused by bumps, blows or jolts to the head that are serious enough to disrupt the normal function of the brain. The severity of a TBI can range from mild concussions, where there might be a temporary loss of brain function or consciousness, to severe cases where there are longer periods of unconsciousness or memory loss.
Here are some tips to keep your child’s noggin safe.
- Wear a helmet. Make sure your child wears a helmet when bicycling, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding, as well as playing contact sports such as football and baseball. They should wear a helmet when riding horses, too.
- Make sure the chin strap is clasped and adjusted properly. You want to ensure the helmet stays on if your child has an accident.
- Always follow appropriate child seat safety guidelines. The warmer weather gets us out on the road more often. Make sure you are following car seat guidelines that are appropriate for your child. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of TBI-related deaths among people 5–24 years of age. For more information on guidelines and our car seat safety program, visit Buckle Buddies.
- Keep walkways clear. To prevent falls, keep obstacles out of common walkways.
- Safety bars on windows. To prevent younger children from falling from windows, consider installing bars.
If your child receives a blow to the head, be on the lookout for these symptoms of a mild TBI:
- A dazed, stunned look.
- A severe headache.
- A feeling of pressure in the head.
- Memory issues: can’t recall what happened before or after the event.
- Nausea or vomiting.
If any of these signs are present, see your doctor or go to the emergency department immediately.
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