School is out and the weather is heating up, and that means it’s prime time for summer fun. But with that fun comes an increased risk of head injuries.
Dr. Drew Oliveira, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield says brain injuries in children are common. In fact, he says here in the U.S., every nine seconds there’s a traumatic brain injury. That’s about 2.8 million people per year – and about 560 thousand of those injuries are under the age of 18.
“Some are very noticeable. They’re unconscious, they’re knocked out. But they may also exhibit difficulties in speech or changes in their vision. They could also have headaches. Maybe they’re not just thinking well so we call that cognitive impairments,” says Oliveira.
Oliveira says with head injuries you may see emotional impairments as well, like big mood swings, that are not usual for that individual. These symptoms can appear hours or even days after the injury.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, the two age groups that are most at risk are the very young – ages 0-4. After that, the next highest group is teenagers, ages 15-19.
“What causes most brain injuries in children is organized sports. About 45% of them are due to a sport activity,” says Oliveira.
So as your kids prep for sports camps and clinics this summer, remember the number one way to help prevent head injuries is to wear a helmet. That also goes for other fun summer activities like biking, rollerblading, or riding scooters.
As for younger kids and toddlers - keep an eye out for things that could cause a nasty fall.
“For the very young children just running around, you worry about them falling - falling down the stairs or off a bed, so you need to look at your environment and make sure things are safe for them,” says Oliveira.
Create a safe environment, make sure they have proper gear, and keep your kids safe and happy this summer and beyond.