When children suffer traumatic brain injury it can change their lives. But a recent survey shows that improvements in car seats have reduced the number of brain injuries coming from car accidents.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared the causes of brain injuries in children by age. It surveyed the data from 43,000 children treated in emergency rooms for blunt force head trauma over 2 years.
For infants and toddlers, the primary culprit was falling from a height (54 percent). In fact, all of the top three causes were falls of one sort or another. Falls still led the way in elementary aged children, but the percentage of falls from a height was cut by over half (24 percent).
Then when kids hit the teenage years the distribution of injuries shifted drastically. Car accidents jumped to 18 percent of all traumatic brain injuries for children 13-17 years old – third only to assaults and sports.
The difference depends on how children move and develop, but it is also affected by improvements in child safety car seats. Dr. Mark Proctor, a neurosurgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital reviewed the study:
“If you look at the younger kids, the fact that motor vehicle accidents are not showing up as significant causes [of head injuries] probably means we’re doing a pretty good job on car seats and adequate infant car protection.”
When a child is wearing a seat belt or is buckled in to an infant carrier, the risk of TBI during a car accident drops from 5 to just 2 percent. That is essential since brain injury during childhood can cause significant developmental delays.
But Proctor warns that car seats only offer protection when used properly:
“We see a lot of injuries from a car seat being used as a carrier. They’re great for cars; They’re not great for carriers.”
That’s why parents of young children should be sure they have the proper car seats and know how to use them. They can help prevent traumatic brain injury, but only when they are used properly. Parents should make sure they read their manuals and follow all the safety instructions in order to save their children from brain injury and get the full benefit from their car seats.
David Christensen is a brain injury expert with Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team can help parents of children and teens facing brain injury get their benefits paid and bring their children back to health. If you or someone you know has a child who has suffered an accident-related brain injury, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.