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Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury
Categories: Brain Injury



Question

My wife insists that our 6-year-old son must wear a helmet when he rides his bike, even though he just rides on the sidewalk in our neighborhood. I don't think this is necessary. After all, millions of us survived childhood without wearing helmets.

Answer

"Traumatic brain injury impacts approximately 475,000 children ages 0 to 14 every year,” says Jennifer Silber-Carr, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Clinical Director for the May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helmets, when worn correctly, are effective in preventing brain injuries.
 
“The fact that wearing a helmet could protect your son from a life-threatening or life-limiting traumatic brain injury is reason enough to insist he wear one when he is riding his bike.”

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability among America's youth. It is most often the result of motor vehicle or bicycle accidents, falls, sporting accidents, violence, or abuse. Brain injury may affect a child's ability to function well at school, home, and in other settings, causing difficulties in the following areas:

            • Cognitive: memory loss, organizational difficulties, speech
               and/or communication problems, difficulty in reasoning and
               problem solving;
            • Behavioral: impulsivity, irritability, aggression, decline in
               social skills;
            • Physical: impairment or changes in vision, hearing,
               coordination, balance, and muscle tone

According to Dr. Silber-Carr, children should be given instruction on street safety at an early age ("stop, look, and listen before you cross the street") and be required to wear properly fitted helmets during many sporting and recreational activities, including:

            • Riding bicycles, tricycles, scooters, and skateboards, and while
               rollerblading, skiing, and snowboarding;
            • Playing football, baseball, hockey, soccer, and other impact sports

“Small children riding as passengers in trailers or bicycle seats should also wear helmets,” says Dr. Silber-Carr. “Riders should use trails and other designated areas for biking and avoid busy streets. In addition, children who are passengers in automobiles should be in car seats or wear seat belts, depending upon their age and weight. Children under 12 years of age and/or weighing less than 100 pounds should ride in the back seat of a motor vehicle.”


Dr. Jennifer Silber-Carr is Clinical Director for the May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders in Brockton. For more information about this school, contact Andrea Potoczny-Gray, Executive Director, at 508.588.8800 (x2124).