Brain Injury Can be Prevented!! It happens every 23 seconds...
Call the Brain Injury Association of Vermont at 1-877-856-1772
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Parents of children who play contact sports have been heading me off at the pass, asking if they need to worry if their child has a concussion. Let me see if I can hit this topic and provide some useful information.
A concussion is a temporary loss of brain function, due to a direct injury to the head and the shifting of the brain inside the skull. It is important to know that your child can experience a mild concussion and not lose consciousness. Symptoms (which may occur anywhere from a few hours to several weeks after the injury) can include dizziness, memory problems, a decline in school performance, nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, and trouble with coordination and balance.
Anyone with a recent concussion is at an increased risk for a second one if he or she is injured again, even if it's with less force-which is why it is so important to seek medical attention after the first head injury. That way, you can make sure your child is safe to return to the sport, or see if a special imaging study of the brain is needed to assess the extent of the damage. So when is it safe for your child to return to the sport? If your child doesn't lose consciousness and feels fine within 15 minutes of the injury, he or she is usually able to return to the sport almost immediately.
If a second injury occurs, though, or if it takes more than 15 minutes to recover from the first injury, they should take a break for at least a week. More time is required if he or she loses consciousness.Of course, the best course of action is prevention, which means having your child wear the appropriate headgear and safety equipment for his or her sport. It's also important for children to know the rules and techniques for the sport-doing so will reduce the risk of concussion by 85 percent. Hopefully tips like this will allow you to use your head before rushing your child back into the game after a concussion.
- Don't forget to dust off your winter sports helmet.
- Did you know that children are at the greatest risk for winter sport related brain injuries?
- YOU can do something about that!
Wearing a properly fitted helmet can prevent or reduce the severity of brain injury during winter sports and activities like hockey, skiing, snowboarding and sledding. But be sure your helmet is specifically designed for winter sports. That bike helmet won't help you on the slopes or on the ice rink! Don't become another statistic, and don't let a fall on your head get in the way of wintertime fun. Remember, broken bones mend, cuts heal, but a brain injury is forever. Protect your noggin! ALWAYS wear your helmet.
PHAT Helmet Program Hits Slopes in '09
By: University of Vermont
Jan. 8, 2009 - Dr. Robert Williams knows the wisdom of protecting one's head. Involved in a serious cycling accident in 2001, Williams suffered internal injuries but stepped away with no head trauma thanks to his bike helmet. That experience inspired the doctor, an avid skier and snowboarder, to lead an effort to get more people into the helmet habit on the slopes.
PHAT (Protect Your Head at All Times and Protect Your Head on All Terrain) is a youth-oriented campaign launched in 2002 by Williams, University of Vermont (UVM) associate professor of anesthesiology and director of the Snow Sports Research Team at UVM and Fletcher Allen. Piloted at Smugglers' Notch, PHAT is currently supported by the Vermont Health Foundation. The program, which has shown great promise in making skiing safer, will be featured at 11 Vermont resorts in 2009.
The Vermont Snowsports Research Team has made over 50,000 observations of skiers and snowboarders in an effort to understand how best to promote the use of ski helmets. Some of their tips, which can also be found on the program website at www.skihelmetsafety.org , include:
- Ski and snowboard as if you weren't wearing a helmet. Helmets may help reduce the chance of an injury in the event of certain types of accidents. Snow sports are safe and healthy activities but only if done responsibly. Helmets are of little help in high speed head on injuries and offer no protection against neck and other type of injuries. It is important that all skiers and boarders ride responsibly and in control at all times.
- Take time for a proper fit. Ski helmets are not something to grow into. The helmet must fit properly to function safely. In addition a helmet that is an uncomfortable fit will end up not being worn.
- Make certain to buy a helmet that conforms to industry standards. There are various helmet standards in place including CEN (the least rigorous standard), ASTM and Snell (far and away the most rigorous and hard to meet standard for certification). The product literature will make it clear which standard the helmet meets.
- Bring your child's or your goggles in when you buy your helmet. Different goggles and helmets work together differently. A well-fitting system will provide great protection for the face and forehead from cold, wind and snow and still allow adequate ventilation for the goggles.
A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Even what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious. As many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions are estimated to occur in the United States each year.
Your child loves to play hard and that’s great. It is normal for children to get mild bumps and bruises as a result of an active life, but serious injuries can often be prevented. Remember that a concussion is a brain injury and both children and adults need time after such an injury to recover. Once a concussion has occurred, the brain is very vulnerable for a time to more injuries. If your child has gotten a bump on the head, watch for signs of trouble such as:
- Balance & mobility difficulties
- Vision or hearing problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Low frustration tolerance
- Impulsivity and disinhibition
- Difficulty learning and remembering new things
- Difficulty integrating new and old things
- Trouble paying attention and staying focused
- Difficulty planning and following through with tasks
For information, referral, and assistance call the Brain Injury Association of Vermont at 1-877-856-1772
Did you know that most traumatic brain injuries occur in motor vehicle crashes when the child is a pedestrian, bicyclist, or passenger?
Here in Vermont, each year approximately 1,500 children and youth visit emergency rooms with traumatic brain injuries – we can reduce this number with prevention.
Sometimes parents can forget the importance of setting an example by wearing a helmet themselves while bike riding. It’s great to be sure children take safety precautions and adults need to be a model of putting safety first. Bicycle helmets need to fit properly, always be fastened securely under the chin, and must cover the forehead well.
Biking season is right around the corner so be sure you have helmets! Affordable helmets can be obtained through Safe Kids Vermont by calling 1-800-974-7055. For information, referral, and assistance on brain injury call 1-877-856-1772, toll-free.
Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children nationwide and in Vermont.
Fletcher Allen Health Care is the lead agency for Vermont SAFE Kids, a state-wide coalition of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the first and only national organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional injury. The coalition consists of a volunteer board of directors from varied professions, organizations, and local volunteers. A Fletcher Allen community health nurse coordinator works with the coalition, state and local partners, and other Fletcher Allen staff to identify community risk factors and prevent unintentional childhood injuries through education, media, technical support to individuals and groups working on projects to prevent unintentional childhood injury. Vermont SAFE KIDS also co-sponsors and participates in child passenger safety seat checks, safety fairs, bike rodeos, and other injury prevention efforts.
Examples of other activities supported through this program include:
- Brain and Spinal Cord Injury prevention assemblies for late middle school and high school students presented by a health care provider and trauma survivor
- Burn prevention "train the trainer" workshops for early childhood educators
- Fire Safety Trailer for school age children
- Lending library of videos, interactive safety games, and educational materials
- Low cost bicycle and ski/snowboard helmets
- Vermont SAFE KIDS newsletter (quarterly)
- Vermont Walk Your Child To School Day
- Community Safety Project mini-grants
Spring is coming and soon kids will be getting the bikes and scooters out of the garage, ready for another season of fun. Be sure they also wear helmets that fit properly. Yes, scooters can be a risky pastime and protective gear is necessary to reduce the risk of injury.
Brain injuries can be particularly serious in children, whose heads are proportionately larger than adults so they tend to land head first. The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that children under age eight not ride scooters without close adult supervision. There are lots of helmets available that will provide adequate protection for scooter-riders, particularly since in-line skate helmets and bicycle helmets are designed to an identical standard.
For more information on obtaining affordable helmets, call Safe Kids Vermont at 1-800-974-7055. For information, referral, and assistance about brain injury, call toll-free 1-877-856-1772.
The feeling one gets when riding a horse is not one that can be described in words, it is one that must be experienced to understand. The true partnership one gets with their horse is indeed unique. However, we must remember that these gentle giants are indeed potentially dangerous in certain situations. Horses are prey animals, and their first instinct when they perceive danger is to flee (run away). If that is not possible they will fight (kick, bite, or strike).
The first rule of safety is to not ride a horse you are not capable of riding - you must have the experience to understand horse behavior and have the knowledge to deal with situations as they arise. Horses have different levels of experience as do riders - appropriate matches must be made. That being said, situations will arise where even the most skilled rider will find him or herself in an accident. Proper equipment for horseback riding is every bit as important as it is for any other sport. You would not boat without lifejackets or skydive without a parachute, right?
- Proper fitting tack that is in good repair - if a girth breaks, the saddle will fall off, and so will you, so be sure all the tack is in good working order.
- Safety stirrups - these are designed to let your foot fall free from the stirrup if you fall reducing the risk you may be dragged by a runaway horse.
- Smooth soled boots with a heel - especially if not using safety stirrups - the heel will reduce the risk your foot will slide through the stirrup and the smooth soles make it easier for you to pull your foot out of the stirrup.
- Wear long legged pants - jeans or riding jodphurs, no shorts - your legs will appreciate the protection.
- In some cases there are safety vests that can be helpful - especially when jumping horses or out on the trail, where the potential for injury is greater - these will help minimize the risk of rib injuries.
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET!! Head injury is the number one cause of horse related injuries. A fall from a horse starts five feet from the ground. Add speed, and the force and trajectory is one that will not spare a head injury. Even if symptoms are not obvious there has likely been some trauma. Helmets today are much more advanced than those of years past. They are lightweight, cool, and designed to absorb the shock so your skull does not. Once a helmet has been hit, it must be discarded and replaced with a new one. Have you ever had a thermos that you dropped and the inside material between the outer and inner layers breaks and you can hear it rattle around? That is what happens to a helmet in an impact, the outer shell transfers the force to the inner material that absorbs the shock, and once it breaks, it is no longer effective. Check out the helmet that was in a fall from a horse standing still that bolted off, leaving the rider falling off backwards and hitting the back of the head.
Notice the crack in the photo of the upside down helmet, this helmet broke in a fall, which it is designed to do. Had the helmet not taken the shock of the impact, the skull would have and the rider might not still be alive, or might have sustained a significant TBI.
It is often recommended to wear your helmet even while grooming your horse - reaching down to brush the belly or clean hooves, puts your head in kicking range if a horse suddenly feels the need to kick at a biting insect while your head is down there.
Other basic safety riding tips are to never ride off alone - if you do, leave information where you are riding and when you expect to return so people know where to look for you if you do not return as planned. You can carry a cell phone with you (in case you are lucky to have cell phone reception when you need it) but do not leave your phone on ring mode while riding - you don't need a ringing phone startling your horse!
Being safe can make your riding experience much more enjoyable!
Information provided by Diane Lashoones, PT, Directior NARHA RI
Water Tower Farm
US RT 2 / PO Box 225
Marshfield, Vermont 05658