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Traumatic brain injuries in children: Facts parents should know

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can range from mild to devastating -- and they happen to children as well as adults.

If you have a child, this is what you should know about traumatic brain injuries:

1.) More than half (55 percent) of childhood TBIs are caused by falls. It's important to keep a close eye on children who haven't yet developed a strong sense of danger when they're climbing or jumping. Falls can result in some of the most serious TBIs for children.

2.) The second largest group of children who suffer TBIs are those who simply get hit with something. That something could be a basketball that's thrown too hard, a rock ot even a toy. This group accounts for 24 percent of childhood TBIs.

3.) While many people focus on childhood deaths related to brain injury -- like infants who are killed by shaken-baby syndrome -- the reality is that mild trauma can have serious consequences as well. The child who suffers from an assault shows the immediate effects of a TBI. The child who suffers a mild concussion after being hit in the head by a stray baseball may not show the full array of symptoms for a while.

4.) Even a mild TBI can permanently affect a developing child's ability to speak, comprehend, remember, analyze and move. It can also cause personality changes or mood changes that linger indefinitely.

To reduce your child's risk of a TBI:

  • Never leave him or her unattended on a playground where he or she can climb, swing too high or otherwise fall from a significant height.
  • Never leave him or her with anyone you don't trust to stay calm and cool if the child cries or acts out.
  • Always make sure that your child is wearing appropriate safety gear while riding a bike or playing a sport -- even if it's just a friendly game.
  • If your child is injured, seek immediate medical attention for even mild head trauma.

If your child suffers a TBI due to someone else's negligence, whether at school or at someone's home, it's wise to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Source: NIH, "Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Kids," accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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