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Follow These Tips to Keep Kids Safe From Brain Injuries

It is estimated that over 500,000 children visit emergency rooms every year with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). This number does not include the thousands of other children that seek medical treatment elsewhere and those that are never treated for their injuries. Based on these numbers, it’s clear that far too many children are suffering these serious injuries every year.

Many children sustain these injuries while playing sports at school or with friends. In fact, over one-fifth of all brain injuries sustained by children occurred while the child was playing sports. How can parents protect their children while also allowing them to play their favorite sports? Follow these tips:

Start the Conversation

It’s important for parents to start talking to their children about the seriousness of brain injuries as soon as they start playing sports. You should focus on teaching your children how these injuries occur so they know which behaviors to avoid while playing. Then, discuss the symptoms that often appear when a brain injury has occurred. It’s crucial that children know these symptoms so they can spot them in themselves and others. Make sure you tell your children that if they spot the signs of a brain injury–either in themselves or a friend–they must let a responsible adult know as soon as possible.

Purchase Protective Gear

Don’t let your child choose their own protective gear. Children tend to choose protective gear based on the color or comfort, but they should be choosing gear that is designed to offer the most protection. Accompany your children to the sporting goods store so you can approve of the gear they select.

The type of protective gear your child will need will depend on the sport. If it’s a contact sport such as football or hockey, helmets and mouth guards can protect your child and reduce their risk of sustaining a brain injury.

The protective gear needs to fit your child properly or it won’t be effective. Helmets should fit snugly, but they should not be tight enough to cause pain or discomfort. The helmet should not be too loose, either. If the helmet can move more than one inch in any direction while it’s on your child’s head, it’s far too big to offer a significant amount of protection.

The mouth guard needs to fit well, too. Choose a mouth guard with at least 4mm of protective material covering your child’s teeth. The mouth guard should comfortably fit over your child’s upper teeth, and should stay in place even when your child is not biting down.

Meet the Coach

Set time aside to meet your child’s coach prior to the start of the athletic season. It’s important for parents to trust their child’s coach since this is the adult who will be responsible for protecting your child when you’re not around.

Be straightforward with the coach and ask them if they are trained to spot the signs of a brain injury. Make sure they share your commitment to keeping kids safe. If a coach laughs off talk about brain injuries, this indicates that they do not understand the severity of this issue.

Don’t forget to ask the coach if there are procedures in place to protect athletes that sustain brain injuries during practices or games. Will the coach immediately pull the athlete from the game? Will the parents be notified? Who will provide emergency medical assistance to an athlete pulled from the game? Your child’s coach should be able to confidently answer these questions.

Help Kids Train

Some children sustain brain injuries while playing sports simply because they were never taught the rules of the game. As a result, they aren’t sure how to conduct themselves when the game begins, and they end up making dangerous plays that put them at a greater risk of getting hurt. Prevent this problem by ensuring your child is trained before allowing them to play. Your child should understand the rules of the game and the proper techniques to use to protect themselves.

Teach Kids About Friendly Competition

Children that play sports are often competitive, which is not a bad thing. But, it’s important for parents to explain to their children that being overly competitive is dangerous. Studies have shown that about 25% of mild TBIs sustained by athletes in high school occur as a result of poor sportsmanship. For example, an athlete could sustain a mild TBI after aggressively charging at a player on the other team for no apparent reason. Poor sportsmanship causes athletes to act out in dangerous ways, so teach your kids to look at these games as friendly competitions.

Create Rules

Parents should also consider establishing certain rules that children must follow when playing sports in order to reduce their risk of sustaining brain injuries. For example, let’s say your child plays soccer. Many soccer players hit the ball with their head, but this is dangerous and can lead to mild head trauma. If you’re not comfortable with your child hitting the ball with their head, tell them this move is off-limits. Make it clear they can still play soccer, but they must be willing to follow this rule.

Parents can also establish rules regarding what sports their child is allowed to play. For instance, since football is one of the most dangerous sports, many parents may want to establish a rule prohibiting their children from playing it. Rules like these can keep your children safe while still allowing them to stay active.

Has your child sustained a brain injury? If so, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman as soon as possible to discuss your case. Let our personal injury attorneys hold the negligent parties accountable for the harm they have caused your child. We will work tirelessly to ensure your family is fully compensated for your child’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.

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