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Children’s vulnerability to traumatic brain injuries


Anyone of any age can be involved in an accident that damages the functioning of the brain but some groups, including children, are more prone than others to suffer. Traumatic brain injuries affect about 1.7 million Americans each year. The most likely TBI patients are 65 and older, children under age 5 and teens, ages 15 to 19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 80 percent of the people diagnosed with TBIs between 2002 and 2006 were released following emergency room treatment. Another 275,000 people were admitted to hospitals and 52,000 died from brain trauma.

TBIs can be caused by accidents at home, in vehicles or while engaging in sports or recreational activities. Nearly 474,000 children, 14 or younger, with mild or severe TBIs are taken to hospital emergency rooms each year. An unknown number are treated elsewhere or not treated at all.

The majority of direct or indirect head injuries are diagnosed as mild. Despite the description, even non-severe TBIs like concussions may cause serious health problems, particularly for victims in high-risk groups.

Parents can reduce chances a child will suffer a traumatic brain injury. A home environment can be modified with security features to prevent falls from windows or down steps. Sand and mulch can soften surfaces under backyard play areas.

Encourage the use of helmets whenever a child rides a bike, scooter, skateboard, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobile or motorcycle. Make sure safety gear is appropriate and fits properly whenever a child participates in sports or recreational activities.

Always wear a seat belt and secure your child in a vehicle. Follow state laws and car seat, booster and seat belt manufacturers’ recommendations based on age, height and weight.

Children may suffer TBIs despite these measures, sometimes due to others’ negligent actions. In those cases, parents may be able to recover compensation for medical costs and other losses through civil claims.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Injury Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury” accessed Feb. 26, 2015

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