Westchester Leader Join St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children to Launch Head Smart Westchester Campaign to Prevent Head Injuries in Children

County Executive Astorino and St. Mary’s Leaders Unveil Top 10 List of Ways Parents and Coaches Can Better Protect Kids

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino joined leaders from St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children today to launch Head Smart Westchester, an education and public awareness campaign designed to prevent and better manage head injuries and concussions in children. They also unveiled a top ten list of steps parents and coaches can take to better protect kids.

At a press conference to make the announcement, Stephen Brent Wells, Chairman of the St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children Board of Directors and the County Executive were joined by Westchester healthcare professionals to unveil a public service campaign sponsored by St. Mary’s.

“It takes only a few seconds for a child to have a life-changing accident that causes a head trauma,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “It takes only these same few seconds for a parent to take common-sense, easy steps to prevent an injury. The Westchester Head Smart Campaign reminds us we should never take our children’s safety for granted.”

“The path to decreasing the occurrence of head injuries begins with increasing education and awareness,” said Stephen Brent Wells, Chairman, St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children Board of Directors. “With summer in full swing, Westchester’s children are ramping up their outdoor activities and at St. Mary’s we work every day with amazing children whose lives were dramatically changed on a simple summer afternoon. We want to make sure everyone is aware of the steps they can take to avoid brain injuries and thank County Executive Astorino for his leadership on this issue.”

The group unveiled Ten Steps to Prevent Head Injuries:

  • Buckle Up! Before packing up the family car for summer travel, make sure car seats are properly installed – most are not. Be a role model for your kids; always use your seatbelt.
  • Helmet Up! Make sure to use one each time you get on a bike, scooter, skates or skateboard.
  • Wear the right helmet for the right impact: Special helmets are designed for different sports – football, hockey, baseball (batting helmets), and lacrosse, among others.
  • One helmet, one hit: Some helmets, like most bike helmets, can only withstand a single hit. That means the shock-absorbing material that protected your head during a fall may not protect you a second time. Read the labels.
  • Never dive into a pool, lake, or river without knowing the exact depth. And be extra cautious around water. Small children can drown in very small amounts of water – even a few inches in the tub or a splash pool pose a hazard.
  • Don’t allow children to attempt flips on a trampoline … or slide head first.
  • Teach and use safe sports techniques. Make sure equipment, fields, and playgrounds are in good condition. And regularly replace any worn out, damaged, or defective equipment to stay safe.
  • Know the symptoms of a concussion. Concussions can’t be seen and symptoms may appear immediately or well after the injury. Look for signs of: confusion, nausea, headache, trouble concentrating, dizziness, double vision, light sensitivity, and fatigue. While most children recover quickly from a concussion, they are at greater risk to experience another.
  • Always seek medical assistance following even the slightest injury to the head.
  • Managing sports concussions. Knowing when it is ok to return to play is critical to preventing reoccurring and serious brain injuries. It’s better to miss one game than the rest of the season.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) in children 14 and under result in 400,000 emergency room visits, 29,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States. Often the injuries are the result of avoidable accidents and St. Mary’s is working to promote numerous preventative steps that can be taken by children, parents, sports coaches and others to avoid these potentially serious injuries.

Roughly 400,000 concussions took place in high school athletics during the 2008-2009 school year according to research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State University.

Learn more about St. Mary’s Head Smart program and discover the many simple life-saving tips for protecting your child’s brain.

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