Every nine seconds someone in the United States sustains a brain injury. These injuries aren’t tied to adults alone, as more than 3.5 million children and adults sustain an acquired brain injury each year.
According to Tonya Washburn, MD, Physiatrist at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, the leading cause of brain injuries in children are falls, with motor vehicle accidents following as a close second.
“The initial trauma results in an impact force to the head followed by the acceleration/deceleration of the brain within the skull. This can lead to bruising and/or hemorrhages, diffuse injury to the brain cells, followed by increased swelling of the brain,” said Dr. Washburn. “There is limited space in the skull, so swelling itself can lead to further damage to the brain cells.”
Brain injuries don’t always include an open head wound or even a loss of consciousness. Sometimes the signs can be subtle and easily missed. “A mild brain injury/concussion can occur without a parent being aware. This may occur due to a fall while the child is at school or away from home, and more likely in a sports related activity,” said Dr. Washburn. “For those who have a brain injury, the primary complaint will most likely be headaches, followed by nausea/vomiting, confusion and dizziness or seizures. In this case, the child should be soon as soon as possible by a medical professional.”
Brain injuries can also happen in activities your children participate in every day. “I recommend wearing a helmet with activities that can lead to injury. This includes bikes, motorcycles, skate boards, ATV’s and sports that can cause trauma to the head,” said Dr. Washburn. “Parents must insist on the use of helmets with these activities. The proper use of seat belts as well as child restraints in automobiles, car seats and booster seats is also important.”
Physicians at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital treat children and teenagers with traumatic brain injuries. As Oklahoma’s only inpatient pediatric rehabilitation hospital, patients receive a wide variety of services, from 24-hour medical care to education and therapy. If you would like to donate to help patients with brain injuries at the Hospital, please click here.