Many children in New Jersey suffer head injuries when they are involved in falls, car crashes and other types of accidents. These head injuries may cause concussions and other types of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that TBI can result from any type of bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain functioning. Mild TBI can lead to a brief change in mental state or consciousness. Severe TBI can involve prolonged loss of consciousness and loss of memory.
The Brain Injury Association of America (BIA) reports that hospital emergency rooms treat close to 600,000 new cases of traumatic brain injury in children each year. Roughly 62,000 children under the age of 19 suffer TBI that is severe enough to require hospitalization.
As you can see, TBI is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition. However, if you don’t know the signs of TBI, you may be unable to detect that your child is suffering from this condition after he or she has been involved in an accident.
Here, we discuss seven things that parents should know about TBI and children:
1. Accidents are common causes of TBI in children.
The CDC reports that the most common causes of TBI in children are:
- Motor vehicle accidents – Car crashes are the leading cause of TBI-related deaths among children ages 4 and older.
- Falls – These accidents can occur on playground equipment, wet and slippery floors and stairs that lack handrails. They are the leading cause of TBI-related injuries among most age groups, including children.
- Being struck by or against an object – This is the leading cause of TBI in children ages 15 to 18. These incidents can occur due to faulty fixtures or shelving in public places.
- Accidents involving sports and recreational activities – TBI can occur among children engaged in school sports and recreational programs, including activities such football, softball, soccer, swimming and lacrosse.
- Violent assaults – TBI can result from domestic violence as well as from school bullying and other physical confrontations with peers.
2. If you suspect a child head injury, seek immediate medical attention.
If your child suffers a bump or blow to the head, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. The Mayo Clinic reports that TBI carries a wide range of physical and psychological effects.
Symptoms may not appear until days or weeks after the injury occurs. Those symptoms include:
- Severe headaches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Excessive sleepiness and inability to stay awake
- Impaired vision and hearing
- Being unable to remember details of the accident
- Irritability and mood swings
- Burst of anger or rage.
3. Traumatic brain injuries in children can impact their physical health and emotional development.
Brain injuries can cause temporary impairments or long-lasting disabilities that affect a child’s future development, the BIA reports.
Some of the common effects of TBI in children are:
- Physical impairments – Loss of balance, seizure disorders or partial paralysis
- Cognitive impairments – Limited attention span, poor reading comprehension or communication skills and impaired judgment
- Emotional impairments – Difficulty controlling emotions, low motivation and increased self-centeredness.
4. A child needs proper rehabilitation to recover from TBI.
Symptoms of TBI are often the same for children as for adults, the BIA states. However, the impact of TBI on children is often more severe.
You should consult with your child’s school to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to address your child’s needs. You should also explore a wide range of rehabilitation services such as:
- Physical therapy
- Speech-language therapy
- Occupational therapy.
Ask your doctor about rehabilitation for your child. If you believe that your child’s needs are going unmet, you should seek a second opinion.
5. Children should be cleared by a doctor before they return to sports or other activities after a head injury.
The CDC’s Heads Up program raises awareness about what parents should know about concussions due to sports injuries. The CDC also describes the responsibilities of schools, coaches and recreational staff when it comes to preventing TBI and responding to brain injuries.
A coach or trainer should immediately remove a child from play if the child suffers a suspected head injury. The child should not return to action until cleared by a doctor.
If a coach or trainer fails to follow these guidelines, the child could suffer severe health complications.
6. Parents, teachers and coaches can prevent child head injuries by using proper safety equipment.
Helmets are the first line of defense against head injuries. Your child should always wear a helmet while biking, skateboarding, riding a scooter, driving a motorized bike or playing contact sports.
The CDC provides guidelines for different types of helmets that children should wear when engaged in different activities. According to the CDC, any helmet worn by a child should:
- Fit snugly and be age appropriate
- Be in good condition and well-maintained
- Be worn consistently and correctly
- Be certified for use by an accredited organization.
7. A lawyer can help you to seek compensation if your child suffered injuries in an accident caused by another.
If your child’s brain injury resulted from the negligence of another, the child’s current and future medical expenses could be among the damages sought in a personal injury claim.
Contact Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., to discuss the specific facts of your case. Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys will advocate aggressively on your behalf and pursue the financial recovery that your child and your family deserves.