Keep Outdoor Activities Fun by Playing It Safe This Summer

From Bumps to Falls, How Parents Can Protect their Kids from Brain and Head Injuries

Released: 13-Jun-2014 12:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Stony Brook University
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Newswise — STONY BROOK, NY, JUNE 12, 2014 – A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. An estimated 1.7 million people in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. And almost half a million emergency department visits for TBI are made annually from the ages of birth to 14 years of age.

Michael Egnor, MD, Vice-Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, Stony Brook University Hospital and Director, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, is one of only 199 board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons in the country, shares steps that parents can take to help prevent brain injury in their children this summer.

With school out and beautiful weather to enjoy, more and more families and kids hit the road on their bikes. But did you know that bicycle accidents are most likely to occur within five blocks of home? “Make sure your child wears a helmet every time he or she rides a bicycle, scooter or skateboard,” says Dr. Egnor. “We’re seeing the most head injuries right now in skateboarding, especially in young teens, who might think it’s just not cool to wear a helmet.” Wearing a helmet is also necessary if your child goes horseback riding.

Hitting the playground this summer? According to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year more than 200,000 children are hurt on playgrounds across the country. And the number one reason is falls. Dr. Egnor says avoid asphalt, concrete, grass and soil surfaces. “Seek out surfaces with shredded mulch, pea gravel, crushed stone and other loose surfaces.”

With older children and teens, parents should be aware of the potential for diving accidents. “In about 50 percent of cases of catastrophic injuries, alcohol or drugs is involved,” says Egnor. “Ensure that responsible adults supervise pool parties and other events where swimming and diving are involved.”

Joining a summer sports team? Dr. Egnor says, watch out for concussions. “The few serious injuries we treat from organized sports are usually accidents that probably could not have been prevented,” says Dr. Egnor. “We see mild concussions — mild because most organized sports require helmets. In soccer, however, injuries sharply increase at age 14 due to more aggressive play and the heavier weight of players.” Children should use their body and extremities, not their head, to hit the ball.

“Having the only Regional Trauma Center in Suffolk County — which means we offer the highest level of care to trauma patients — allows us to deal with serious injury immediately,” says Dr. Egnor. “This is key when minutes count. The full extent of the injuries may not appear immediately, so it’s important for a patient to be at a place like Stony Brook University Hospital where a neurosurgeon can be available quickly, with an operating room that is fully equipped to handle complex and severe injuries. Our team has six board-certified neurosurgeons, each of whom is at the top of his field. Our clinical staff consists of nurse practitioners, who have undergone a higher level of training, and many other specially trained medical professionals. And as part of Stony Brook Children’s, we recognize that children’s needs are different and require treatments and physician expertise tailored to the child.”

About Stony Brook University Hospital:
Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) is Long Island’s premier academic medical center. With 603 beds, SBUH serves as the region’s only tertiary care center and Level 1 Trauma Center, and is home to the Stony Brook Heart Institute, Stony Brook Cancer Center, Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook Neurosciences Institute, and Stony Brook Digestive Disorders Institute. SBUH also encompasses Suffolk County’s only Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center, state-designated AIDS Center, state-designated Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, state-designated Burn Center, the Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence, and Kidney Transplant Center. It is home of the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center. To learn more, visit www.stonybrookmedicine.edu.

About Stony Brook Children’s Hospital:
Established in June 2010, Stony Brook Children's Hospital is Suffolk County’s only children’s hospital. More than 7,000 children and adolescents are admitted each year. Stony Brook Children’s operates 100 pediatric beds and has more than 140 full-time pediatric physicians and surgeons in 30 different specialties and over 200 voluntary pediatric faculty members. The hospital is the Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center for our area and has a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is home to the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center and also offers a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program, Pediatric Cardiology Program, Pediatric HIV and AIDS Center, Cystic Fibrosis Center and the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. To learn more, visit www.stonybrookchildrens.org.

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