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Work left undone in preventing kids’ brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries remain common in the U.S. While their toll is $8 billion in pediatric medicine and lost work for parents, the price paid by child victims is incalculable. Consumer products and sports/recreation are involved in most childhood brain injuries, a new study finds.

Better design and choices in home furnishings and proper sports/recreation protection should make it possible to protect more children against these sometimes-devastating setbacks. To protect public safety, it’s important to continue pressure on companies that make and sell dangerous products.

Trying to sort facts from fears

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) sometimes affect children long after physical scars are healed. Memory, performance at school, and their overall ability to function emotionally, socially and professionally can be hurt by a TBI. Young kids who suffer a TBI are more likely to have behavioral problems later on.

That’s why the Center for Disease Control reported to congress a need for more precise information on what exactly causes TBIs in specific kinds of kids. To meet this call, researchers published their findings in the journal Brain Injury at the end of July 2019.

Eye-opening numbers on childhood traumatic brain injuries

They found nearly three-fourths of non-fatal TBIs involved a consumer product. Breaking the types of products into broad categories, the culprits were:

  • Sports and recreation, especially football, biking and basketball (28.8%).
  • Home furnishings and fixtures like beds, chairs and tables (17.2%).
  • Home structures and construction materials such as floors stairs and ceilings/walls (17.1%).
  • Child nursery equipment (2.7%).
  • Toys (2.4%).
  • Home electronics (0.7%).
  • Other products (4.0%).

Researchers suggest things you can do today

The authors recommend that you minimize things kids can trip over (area rugs), use better lighting, and don’t let kids play on hard (concrete) surfaces. Don’t skimp on stair gates and handrails.

Builders who use refabricated stairs often leave the top or bottom stair higher or lower than the rest, a neat trick for getting people to trip.

Finally, keep tabs on caregivers. Be sure they actively enforce play safety rules and require gear like helmets. There should be consistent adult supervision, and clear athletics education for children, teenagers and coaches.

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