Preventing brain injuries

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Everyday activities can cause serious brain injuries. When a parent is trying to make sure their kids are safe, some simple preventative steps can make a great difference.

Tracey Fejt, injury prevention coordinator at Banner’s Cardon Children’s Medical Center, warns that deaths and traumatic brain injuries are on a rise. However, there are many proactive steps families can take to protect their children.

At Home

Within the home, Fejt suggests parents:

  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases
  • Use window guards to keep children from falling out
  • If there is a balcony, parents should put a guard up
  • Secure television, shelving and other furniture

Parents can also help protect their children outside of the home. Kids should wear properly fitted helmets when they ride bikes, go skating, horseback riding, skiing, or ride and off highway vehicle such as an ATV or UTV.

“Many children get traumatic brain injuries from bike crashes,” Fejt said. “Only 5 percent of kids wear helmets.”

In the Car

Another preventative measure is to have kids ride in the recommended car seat or booster seat for their weight, height and age. Many agencies offer free car seat checks to ensure they are installed properly.

Numerous kids sustain brain injuries when they are at a playground. Fejt says parents should make sure the ground is made from shock absorbent material and not sawdust. Parents also need to monitor their kids to make sure they are using the equipment correctly.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, in 2014, there were 6,581 non-fatal inpatient hospitalizations due to traumatic brain injury. Additionally, there were 54,310 non-fatal TBI emergency department visits among Arizona residents.

Fejt says, if a brain injury occurs, parents should be aware if their child loses consciousness, how long the child was out, when the child came back were they acting normal or abnormal, and whether or not this has happened to them before.

“The more injuries a person has, the greater chance for death,” Fejt explains. “The effects can be permanent or last for a long time. Children who were once great in school might not get good grades anymore.”

There are many resources available to parents for more information, including the Banner Concussion CenterBrain Injury Alliance of ArizonaBrain Injury Association of America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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