As the mom of four active kids, I’ve learned what I can let go of, like pulling clean laundry out of the basket instead of a bureau, and what I stick to my guns about, like looking both ways before crossing a parking lot (we live in the woods, away from a public street). One thing I am extremely protective of though, are my kids’ noggins.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1.7 million people die, are hospitalized, or seen in the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) every year. Almost half a million emergency department visits for TBI that occur each year are among children aged 0 to 14 years. The most common type of TBI is a concussion, frequently defined as a head injury with a temporary loss of brain function. Concussions can cause a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms (definition from Wikipedia).
The CDC has created a Heads Up campaign, which is aimed at health care providers, parents, schools, even sports coaches in order to get the word out about TBI. There are a variety of materials available by going to the CDC’s website. The CDC also has a Facebook page where parents, athletes and coaches can share stories or ask the CDC questions about the campaign. Knowing what a concussion is, what the symptoms are and how to treat it are such important tools for parents, and having that information at our fingertips is even better.
As a parent, it is my job to keep my kids safe, but that doesn’t mean that I have to do it alone. I am fortunate that when Drew and Megan play hockey, they are required to wear a helmet every single time they step out on the ice. Even when we take them to open ice times just to skate, we make sure they wear a helmet. Both times that Annie and Izzie have taken the ice, they’ve done so with their bike helmets on. All the coaches in the hockey program are required to wear a helmet on the ice as well. Not only does it keep them safe, it sets a great example for the kids to see. As a hockey family, we’ve seen the NHL take a greater interest in the effects of concussions on its players such as Marc Savard and Sidney Crosby. The discussion is important for everyone, not just kids.
My kids are also required to wear their helmets when they bike or scooter or roller skate/blade in our garage. We don’t have a paved driveway, so they go round and round inside my garage like lunatics. I didn’t wear a helmet growing up; it wasn’t the law and the word about concussions wasn’t out there like it is now. I rode my bike up and down the street, flipping over the handlebars more than once. I’m lucky that I came out relatively unscathed.
While wearing a helmet when they skate or bike might seem like such a little thing, it’s the single greatest thing I can do to protect my kids from TBI. I even ask that their friends wear a helmet when they come to play if they want to ride bikes or trikes. While I know that I may not be able to protect them from ever getting a TBI, the least I can do is be proactive by knowing how to protect them and what to do if they ever do fall and hit their head.
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