The kids are going back to school soon and that means playground fun for some, athletics training for others. And along with such activities is the risk for an accident. How concerned should parents and educators be about brain injury accidents? Are there measures they can take to protect their returning students? What should young scholars know? And when is a bump on the head serious enough for medical attention? Here's a primer on the basics of traumatic brain injuries.
Risk - Nearly 2 million people receive a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. Of that number, about 80% are treated at an emergency room (ER), then released to recover at home. Of the remainder, more than 50,000 do not survive and about 275,000 require hospitalization.
Children ranging in age from infancy to 19 years are among the highest risk group to receive a TBI. Of all emergency room visits for TBI, about one-third are 14 years of age or younger. So, if parents and educators are worried about the risk of head injuries for young students, they have good reason.
Preventative Measures: Playground and sports injuries are the most common reasons for school related head trauma. Informing children on how to play safe is the best preventative measure parents and educators can take. Legal action may be taken depending on circumstances; on who was directly responsible for the accident, for example.
Playground Safety: Falls from climbing equipment and swings pose the greatest hazard.
- Children should not jump from swings or push others out of swings.
- They should not climb higher than 5-7 feet.
- Youngsters should not climb on, or over, rails intended to be barriers.
- Educators and parents should insist that playground equipment feature the latest safety designs, such as synthetic gripping surface enhancements.
- Grown-ups should also ensure that playground time is properly supervised with an adequate adult/per children ratio.
- Before children enter the playground, perform a clothing check. Drawstrings and cords are hazards that contribute to falls, becoming trapped on equipment.
Athletics Safety: There are many preventative measures that work together to create a safe sports culture.
- Coaches and parents should be pro-active at providing information on concussions and encouraging athletes to report any symptoms.
- Enforce rules that ban strikes to the head.
- Always use proper safety gear.
- Helmets must be used in any sport where physical contact between athletes occur.
- Enforce serious consequences if one athlete puts another athlete at risk of a head injury.
- Create a Concussion Action Plan that includes: disciplinary action for the offender, immediate medical attention for the injured player, documentation of the event, reporting of the event to school administration, parents, and medical care providers.
- Written medical release from a health care provider is required before an injured player can return to training.
Recognizing Trouble: Sometimes a bump on the head is just a bump on the head. These are the symptoms to look for to recognize that a bump is more serious, like a mild concussion or serious brain injury:
- Loss of consciousness that lasts even a few seconds.
- Dazed and confused response with no loss of consciousness.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Restlessness and discomfort when trying to sleep.
- Need for more sleep.
- Loss of balance.
Remember – for each of the causes of brain injury accidents above, the cause must be directly attributable to negligence, intent or recklessness on behalf of another person/entity before legal action can be taken. Learn more about TBIs and how our Orange County brain injury attorneys can help you.
Treatment: Depending on the severity of a brain injury, a family may simply be inconvenienced temporarily or their whole way of life could change. No two people are alike. That goes for brains and injuries as well. The continuum of care for any brain injury is rarely orderly for any patient due to any number of variables. But there are some commonalities that can be expected once an ER evaluation determines hospitalization is required. If a patient is hospitalized for a moderate to severe brain injury, they are usually transferred from the ER to the intensive care unit (ICU).
If a patient is unconscious, or in a coma, treatment may involve equipment like:
- Ventilator/respirator to assist respiratory function.
- Foley Catheter to manage urinary collection.
- Nasogastric (NG) Tube to deliver medications and nutrients to an unconscious patient.
- EKG monitor of cardiac function.
- Pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
Recovery: Again, depending on the severity of the brain injury, rehabilitation will vary. It is most often performed at a separate facility from the treating hospital. A team of professionals is required that specialize in the different aspects of rehabilitation:
- Acute Rehab: Assist patient to regain function in common daily activities like hygiene, eating, dressing, speech, etc.
- Post-Acute Rehab: Therapy becomes more intensive, focused on regaining complete independent function. New skills are learned to compensate for loss of function or weakness in certain areas.
- Sub-Acute Rehab: If post-acute is too intensive for the patient, this type of therapy seeks the same goals over a longer period. Most often the patient is transferred to a facility for long-term care.
- Day Treatment: Once a patient returns home, therapy is continued in a group setting at a rehab clinic.
- Outpatient Therapy: Ongoing therapy to enhance learned skills and continue to monitor long-term recovery continues in a clinic setting on a regular basis, such as weekly visits.
- Home Health Service: Should a patient require specialized medical care or therapy while continuing recovery at home, qualified professionals will be authorized by the medical care provider.
- Community Re-Entry: These programs focus on higher motor skills and cognitive functions designed to assist a patient re-enter the workforce and live independently.
- Independent Living Program: For those patients who require ongoing assistance while living as independently as possible, special housing can be authorized. They will have the security of a qualified individual with some oversight of their living conditions as well as regular on-going therapy.
It is easy to see that if a child receives more than a simple bump on the head that parents need more resources to help them manage the long-term consequences. These consequences can be life-changing in so many ways. Protect the best interest of your child and entire family. Make certain that whatever the future holds for your injured child, you can provide. And sometimes a family needs more than medical advice.
Have you experienced a TBI? Receive a Free Consultation
Nehora Law Firm is a full-service personal injury law firm based in Irvine, California. We specialize in brain injury accidents – representing clients to help them recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to receive a free consultation. You can fill out our online form, or alternatively, you can call us direct at (949) 629-4349 and speak with one of our brain injury lawyers today. We will discuss your case with you - helping to establish whether you have a case and, if so, carve out a viable legal path toward settlement.