Pediatric Brain Injury
Uncovering the Truth Behind Pediatric Brain Injury
Pediatric brain injury, be it mild, moderate, or severe is a traumatizing thing and has the power to affect the child and their parents forever. While some forms of pediatric brain injury cause only a mild concussion, some forms may actually result in comas and permanent, irreparable damage. Many of these injuries could be prevented through closer attention to safety rules, parenting classes, and simple baby-proofing techniques.
The following is a small sampling of some proven statistics regarding pediatric brain injury:
- The leading causes of any type of pediatric brain injury are vehicular accidents, violence towards the child, and falls. In children under the age of 5, the leading cause is falls, accounting for more than 50%. For anyone above the age of 5, adults included, the leading cause is motor vehicle accidents.
- Properly restraining your infant in their car seat can reduce the likelihood of death in a car accident by almost 80%. For children age 1 – 4, it reduces the risk by over half.
- Two thirds of abused children under the age of 1 will suffer from pediatric brain injury.
- Each year over a million children are diagnosed with brain injuries in different degrees of severity.
Mild, Moderate, or Severe
Brain injuries, in adults as well as children, can be classified by their severity of damage. Mild brain trauma is essentially a concussion. A child with a suspected concussion should experience at least one of the following to classify as mild brain injury: a) any amount of unconsciousness; b) loss of memory; c) any change in mental state, and d) focal neurological deficits.
Although the majority of people that undergo a mild injury can recover spontaneously and show no residual debilitations after 3 months, some people, especially children may require a longer healing time. Even though it’s a mild injury, a small amount of brain damage does take place, and unfortunately a percentage of these children will be left with permanent disability.
Moderate brain injuries involve a few minutes to several hours of unconsciousness couple with a few days to several weeks of confusion. Adults sustaining a mild brain injury will generally suffer some physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems afterwards, but with proper rehabilitation most of this will go away completely. Children, however, are still learning skills at the time of the injury and therefore may be permanently altered afterwards.
Severe brain injury can be identified as an injury resulting in a coma that can last for days, weeks, and even months. Upon waking from the coma, it will normally be discovered that the child has suffered significant impairment in their behavioral tendencies, cognitive abilities, and physical dexterity. Even with a great deal of rehabilitation, and even if the child shows remarkable progress after the first year of therapy, it is highly likely that many of the deficits will remain permanent.
Car crashes are an inevitable part of life, but parents have a responsibility to their children to ensure their safety to the best of their abilities. Take your car and car seat to a local fire department. Most departments have a program that will install the car seat properly for you. Some places even give away approved safety car seats for under-privileged parents. When your child outgrows a car seat, keep them in the back but use a booster seat. Studies show that less than 5% of children in between car seat and front seat are properly restrained.
Males and female babysitters are the most common perpetrators of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Make sure you get references from a babysitter before you place your child in their care. You may also want to invest in a nanny cam. Take a parenting class with your partner or rent a parenting video that explains ways to deal with inconsolable children. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you need a break.
Many houses are not properly child-proofed and are open invitations for falls. Stairs should have gates up to protect little explorers. Even raised porches and decks can pose a threat to children as old as 10, so be sure to explain to your kids acceptable play behavior.
Following a few steps and practicing good common sense and logic can go a long way to protecting your most precious asset; your children.