Kids are back in class. That means many are jumping on their bikes to get to school. For others, it’s a return to school sports. In either case, the issue of head injury prevention should be top of mind for parents.
Sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents. Many of these head injuries are preventable. Consider, just over half (52 percent) of children ages 5-14 do not use a bicycle helmet, reports Safe Kids USA. A helmet is one of the easiest ways to prevent head trauma. Here are some other ways to prevent head injuries and play safely.
- Use helmets that are approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Replace damaged equipment and protective gear.
- Know the symptoms of a head injury, which include memory loss, headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea and dilated pupils. Signs of serious brain injury include convulsions, seizures, vomiting, loss of consciousness and paralysis.
- Cease playing at practice or in a game immediately after a concussion. Depending on the severity, your child may need to refrain from participating in sports until symptoms are absent for a week, a month or potentially longer, to ensure a full recovery.
- Talk with your child about the dangers of hiding head injury symptoms and continuing to play following a head injury. An unrecognized concussion that has not fully healed can be followed by another head injury. In this case, fatal brain swelling could result.
- Call your child’s doctor for anything more than a light bump on the head.
- Go to an emergency room immediately if your child loses consciousness.
Remember that you are your child’s best safety advocate. Take the necessary precautions to prevent head injuries and talk to your child openly about risks, prevention and identifying symptoms. If you suspect your child has experienced a head injury, seek medical help immediately.
Sebastian is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida’s senior medical director of clinical client solutions. She also serves as the medical director lead for the wellness program, Better You From Blue.