What Parents Should Know About Pediatric Brain Injuries

What Parents Should Know About Pediatric Brain InjuriesChildren’s boundless curiosity and energy often propel them into a world of exploration and adventure. This natural propensity for activity and curiosity can occasionally expose them to dangerous situations. This is not a criticism of active playtime on the playground or biking down the street, but more a reminder of the potential for accidents which can lead to injuries, namely brain injuries.

The delicate nature of the human brain makes even seemingly minor incidents a cause for concern. It’s crucial for parents and caregivers to recognize the potential risks and understand the profound impact that such injuries can have on a child’s future well-being.

What are the most common brain injury types for children?

According to Johns Hopkins, a head injury in children refers to damage affecting the scalp, skull, brain, or related tissues and blood vessels within the head. Referred to as a brain injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI) based on severity, these injuries vary in nature. Head injuries stand as a leading cause of disability and mortality among children.

Distinct types of head injuries include:

  • Concussion: Resulting from head trauma, concussion temporarily disrupts normal brain function. Brief loss of awareness or alertness may occur, lasting minutes to hours. Mild concussions can go unnoticed initially, but require immediate medical attention once recognized.
  • Contusion: Characterized by brain bruising, bleeding, and swelling occur around the impact site. Sometimes, contusions form on the opposite side of the head due to brain-skull contact from direct blows, vigorous shaking, or whiplash from vehicle accidents. Internal tissues and vessels may tear due to brain movement against the skull.
  • Skull Fracture: Involves bone breaks within the skull, with four primary types:
    • Linear skull fracture: Bone breaks without displacement, typically requiring observation and minimal activity restriction.
    • Depressed skull fracture: Bone sinking necessitates surgery if brain pressure is at risk.
    • Diastatic skull fracture: Suture line fractures along growing skull bones are more common in newborns and infants.
    • Basilar skull fracture: Break at the skull base, a grave situation often accompanied by eye and ear bruising, and fluid drainage.

Regardless of the extent, it’s crucial to have any suspected brain injury evaluated promptly by a medical professional. Prompt assessment can reduce the risk of secondary brain injury, and address any changes in symptoms or severity.

How will a TBI affect a child later in life?

Childhood brain injuries can have compounding effects over time due to the developing nature of a child’s brain. The National Health Institute (NIH) notes that the brain undergoes significant changes during childhood and adolescence, and any disruption can lead to various issues:

  • Cognitive deficits: Brain injuries can impact a child’s cognitive abilities, including attention, memory, and problem-solving skills, affecting their academic performance.
  • Emotional and behavioral changes: Brain injuries can lead to emotional and behavioral disturbances, such as mood swings, impulsivity, and difficulties with emotional regulation.
  • Social challenges: Brain injuries can affect a child’s ability to engage in social interactions, potentially leading to isolation and difficulties forming relationships.

How do kids get hurt?

Kids get hurt in what feels like a million different ways. They fall down, they scrape their knees, they get their heads stuck in between stair rails – the possibilities are wide and varied. We know that as parents, you’ve taken the appropriate steps to making your home as safe as possible for your children, but we also know that your kids can’t stay in the house forever.

The most common causes of brain trauma for children include:

  • Car Accidents: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 139,042 children were injured in car accidents in 2020. It is important to note that child passengers in car accidents, even when properly restrained, can suffer more severe head trauma due to their developing brains and the scope of the accident.
  • Bicycle and Scooter Accidents: Riding bicycles, scooters, or skateboards, and now electric powered variants as well, without proper safety equipment can result in head injuries. Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation against children under 16 using electric-scooters, for example, a study revealed an average patient age of 11. US NEWS & World Report cites research from the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. gathered from 100 hospitals on nearly 1,500 electric-scooter injuries. Over 10% of patients suffered head injuries, including concussions, fractures, and bleeding.
  • Playground Injuries: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year, over 200,000 children visit Emergency Rooms across the country due to playground equipment injuries, with about 80% resulting from falls. The National Safety Council cites some key playground hazards to be aware of:
    • Ground Surfaces: A minimum 12-inch layer of wood chips, sand, or mats of tested rubber is essential. Check for no exposed concrete, rocks, or stumps.
    • Crowded Areas: Maintain a 6-foot buffer around equipment, and swing set areas should have twice the bar’s height clearance.
    • Elevated Zones: Platforms above 30 inches need guardrails.
    • Sharp Edges: Remove protruding bolts, “S” hooks, and sharp points from equipment.
  • Pool Injuries: Pool injuries, whether submersion-related or impact-related, can have severe consequences on the developing brain. In 2021, 18 families in Illinois experienced a heartbreaking loss when a child drowned, according to information from Igov. This sad situation is not unique to Illinois—it’s a problem happening across the entire country, as reported by The New York Times. Even though the number of drowning deaths has gone down by about one-third since 1990, there was a worrisome increase in these incidents in 2020, going up by 16.8 percent.
  • Dog Bites: Animals are a leading contributor to head trauma for children, especially very young children. Small children may unintentionally antagonize animals by pulling on their fur or being too loud, and their heads are typically at mouth-level for the standard dog. Even your beloved family pet may snap out of fear.

Who is liable for my child’s brain injury?

Any number of people or parties can be liable for your child’s trauma. Drivers, pet owners, property owners, schools and administrators – it all depends on the nature and cause of the injury.

If negligence by others contributed to your child’s brain injury, seeking prompt legal advice is important. A personal injury lawyer from Glisson Law can help determine who is liable, and help you seek compensation for your child’s medical bills and pain and suffering. If you are the primary caregiver for your child, we can also seek compensation for your lost wages and any associated costs, like health insurance, daily services, property loss, or more. Glisson Law’s team of pediatric brain injury lawyers are available to assist your search for justice and relief.

Based in Alton, we proudly serve Belleville, Edwardsville, St. Clair and Madison counties, all of Southwestern Illinois and Missouri. Call or contact Glisson Law today for your free consultation.