St. Mary’s shares information on how to be head smart during the warm season
Brain injury is a leading cause of injury-related death and disability in the United States. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month and throughout the month the Neuro-Rehabilitation and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) team at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children has been sharing information on the numerous ways to prevent brain injuries—which can range from mild concussions to severe permanent brain damage.
St. Mary’s Neuro-Rehab and TBI program opened over twenty years ago and treats children from infancy to young adults with cognitive and physical disabilities related to an injury to the brain from an accident, illness, infection, cancer, or stroke. The program is known for its innovative approaches and leading-edge technology that help children regain both function and independence as they learn to manage their brain injury.
More than 2.5 million people in the United States sustain TBIs each year, and 1 million more experience strokes and other acquired brain injuries. The two age groups at greatest risk for TBI are ages 0-4 and 15-19. Research shows that many brain injuries are predictable and preventable. The St. Mary’s team is therefore working to promote numerous preventive steps that can be taken by children, parents, sports coaches, and others to avoid brain injuries. Often considered an invisible injury, TBI can disrupt the normal functions of the brain causing life-altering changes which can affect memory, self-esteem, motivation, and coordination.
Preventive steps include:
• Buckle up! Always secure your child in an appropriate and properly-fitted child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt while in the car.
• Helmet up! Ensure that your child always wears a well-fitted helmet during sports and appropriate activities (i.e., biking, skating, skateboarding, football).
• Know the signs of concussion and seek medical care if exhibiting symptoms (listed below).
• After a sports concussion, consult your medical provider on when it is ok to return to play. This is critical to prevent reoccurring and serious brain injuries. It’s better to miss one game than the rest of the season.
• Remember small children can suffer brain injuries or drown in very small amounts of water. Supervision of children in bathing and water sports situations is key!
Ensure safety inside and outside the home:
• Install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows.
• Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
• Remove tripping hazards such as small area rugs and loose electrical cords.
• Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
• Make sure the surface of your child’s playground is made of shock-absorbing material such as mulch, pea gravel or rubber.
Signs and symptoms of concussion:
• Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
• Feeling dazed, confused, or disoriented
• Memory or concentration problems
• Dizziness or loss of balance
• Nausea or vomiting
• Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, or a bad taste in the mouth
• Sensitivity to light or sound
• Mood changes and/or depression or anxiety
• Fatigue or drowsiness
• Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
For more information on what you can do to help prevent brain injuries, please visit www.stmaryskids.org.