St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children Urges Kids to Be Head Smart

St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, the New York region’s largest provider of post-acute care for children, is encouraging children and their parents to become “Head Smart” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce the incidence of preventable brain injury.

According to research, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in children 14 and under results in 400,000 emergency room visits, 29,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States.

“TBI continues to be the leading cause of injury-related death and disability in children and young adults,” remarked Edwin Simpser, MD, St. Mary’s Interim President and CEO. “The path to decreasing the occurrence of preventable head injuries begins with increasing education and awareness. With summer in full swing and more kids headed outside to bike, swim, and play, this is an excellent opportunity to educate children and families about the causes of head injuries and ways to help protect their brains all year long.”

St. Mary’s is working to promote preventative steps that can be taken by children, parents, coaches, and others to avoid these potentially serious injuries. A key component of the campaign is advocating for concussion awareness and management in youth sports. St. Mary’s has partnered with Senator Daniel Squadron on proposed concussion management legislation to help prevent brain injuries in student athletes. Head injuries in youth sports result in over 300,000 incidents of concussion each year. Athletes anxious to stay in the game may shrug off a hit and may not always admit to or be aware of post-concussive symptoms. Having one concussion puts the high school athlete at greater risk of experiencing another. St. Mary’s is encouraging student athletes, parents and educators to learn the signs of concussion and understand when it is safe to return to play.

With support from Municipal Credit Union, St. Mary’s has developed a suite of educational materials for school-aged children called “It’s Cool at Our School to be Head Smart.” The materials promote helmet, traffic, and pedestrian safety for elementary school students and concussion management for high school students.

The Head Smart Campaign promotes simple tips for injury prevention, including:

  • Effective use of seatbelts and car seats. Most car seats are not installed properly – make sure yours are.
  • The importance of helmets when biking, skating or using a scooter.
  • Use of appropriate, well-maintained helmets and protective gear for each sport.
  • Teaching and using safe sports techniques.
  • 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.

For more information on preventing brain injuries or to request educational materials for your school click here