Travel Frequently? Don't Wait to Visit the Doctor

« Back to Home

Protect Their Heads: Prevent Traumatic Brain Injuries Throughout Your Child's Activities

Posted on

From preschoolers zipping around on bicycles to high school football stars getting pummeled on the field, risks for head injuries abound in the life of your child. Between 2001 and 2010, the number of head injuries incurred by children aged 19 and under while engaged in sports or recreation escalated. Concussions, or traumatic brain injuries, can be severe enough to result in permanent disabilities or death. Physical activity is essential for optimal health, so barring your child from such engagement is not an option. Be proactive in preventing head injuries by recognizing which of your child's activities pose a threat and protecting your child accordingly during athletic and recreational pursuits.

On the Pavement

Wearing a protective helmet is imperative for any activity that takes place on the street, sidewalk or any concrete or blacktop surface is imperative. Such activities include riding or playing on:

  • Tricycles
  • Bicycles
  • Rollerblades or skates
  • Skateboards
  • Scooters
  • Powered toy ride-on vehicles
  • Motorcycles

Avoid these activities on uneven or cracked surfaces that have not been smoothly paved.

Check helmets periodically to ensure a proper fit as your child grows, and purchase the correct headgear that is appropriate to the specific activity. Choose those that bear a sticker from the American Society for Testing Materials, which indicates that the helmet has been rigorously tested and proven to offer maximum protection during the intended activity.

On the Field

Reduce the risk for sports-related head injuries by purchasing the appropriate protective headgear for the sport being played. As each athletic season passes, be sure to replace any protective gear at the first sign of damage. Although football immediately comes to mind when thinking about sports that result in head injuries, helmets are necessary equipment for these other contact sports:

  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Wrestling
  • Soccer

You may not think of baseball and softball as potentially dangerous sports, but these athletes are also at risk, especially when batting. Players should wear protective headgear when playing baseball or softball, and they should be taught to never slide into a base headfirst.

On the Playground

Whether the playground is located on school grounds or in a public park, children at play in these locations must be supervised. Do not allow your child to use playground equipment in ways for which it was not intended. They should remain seated on swings, use both hands to hold on to whirling merry-go-rounds and slip feet-first in a seated position down slides. If your little aspiring gymnast wiles away the hours on the bars, insist on a helmet. Avoid playgrounds that are situated on paved or rocky surfaces.

In the Water

Always supervise children near water, whether you are spending the day poolside or at the shoreline. Do not allow children to climb on rocks and jetties along the beach. If your older child is an accomplished swimmer and wants to take a dive, be sure that the water depth is at least 12 feet. Follow all safety rules posted at the pool or beach site.

If you need more tips, contact a doctor at Better Family Care Practice.

On the Trails and Slopes

The fun recreational pastimes that you often engage in together as a family can pose risks for head injuries. Protect your child by insisting on a helmet worn throughout these activities:

  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Sledding

It is unadvisable to allow children to ride with you on a snow mobile or all-terrain vehicle. If your older child is accustomed to this practice, however, be sure to require a helmet in order to ride.

In the Car

No matter how cautious you are behind the wheel, your child is at the mercy of other drivers on the road. Follow proper guidelines for age and weight appropriate seating for your child from full infant car seats through booster seats. Teach children by example that seatbelts should be worn at all times by every individual in the vehicle. Never drive a car while texting or while under the influence of drug use or alcohol consumption. These seem like common sense tips to which you already adhere, but it is equally important to be sure that these rules are followed in every car that your child rides in. If you are not confident that another driver abides by these safe practices, do not allow your child to ride in that vehicle.

In the Home

Prevent head injuries in the home by eliminating the potential for falls.

  • Install gates at the tops and bottoms of staircases in homes and on decks where toddlers are present.
  • Install window guards.
  • Secure area rugs.
  • Place adhesive rubber mats or stickers to the bottom of a tub or shower stall to prevent slips.
  • Corral electrical cords and secure them along the walls.
  • Instruct children not to leave toys laying around on steps or on the floor in the middle of foot traffic zones.
  • Do not store tempting treats that your child craves in high cabinets that encourage climbing on counters and stovetops.

If your child starts to complain of headaches, ringing in the ears, blurry vision or dizziness, or if you notice any sudden changes in your child's behavior, mental function or daily activity, do not delay in seeking medical attention. Do not allow your child to resume engaging in sports or other physical activities until cleared by a doctor.