High Risk – Your child appears to be at high risk for experiencing a concussion
Based on your answers, it is highly likely that your child will sustain a concussion at some point in the future – that is, if some key habits don’t change. Depending on your particular situation, that may mean ensuring your child is fitted (and regularly wears!) the proper helmet when participating in their favorite activities, or perhaps even reevaluating the risk-benefit ratio of letting them play certain high-impact sports to begin with. Whatever your experience, reducing your child’s concussion risk begins with awareness of the most common causes, placing a priority on safety in their regular activities and in your home, and avoiding dangerous or careless behavior whenever possible.
Here are just a few simple tips for protecting your child from possible concussions:
- Buckle up
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of brain injury in children and adults alike, so help keep your child concussion-free by practicing age-appropriate seatbelt or car seat safety, including properly installing all car seats. Set an example by always buckling up yourself, even if just driving down the street, and make sure all children under 13 ride in the back seat, and preferably the middle seat, for maximum safety.
- Teach safe behaviors
One of the easiest ways to prevent brain injuries in children is by instilling safe behaviors in them from the start. If your child plays sports, teach them proper techniques to avoid collisions, or talk to their coaches to ensure they’re implementing the necessary safeguards during both practices and games. For younger children, ensure they learn the difference between safe and risky behavior during free play and even daily activities, such as crossing the street at a crosswalk versus jaywalking.
- Always wear helmets
Helmets aren’t just for bicycles! Properly fitted helmets can reduce the risk of a severe head injury (and even save lives) during many recreational activities, so ensure your child wears the appropriate helmet for every injury-prone activity he or she engages in. Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for tips on choosing the right helmet and fit.
- Avoid falls
According to the CDC, falls account for half of all traumatic brain injuries among children ages 0-14. A vital step in preventing the possibility of brain injury or concussion is childproofing your home and keeping a watchful eye on the playground. For younger children, install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs, use window guards, and secure all heavy furniture that might tempt little climbers. Avoid high-risk equipment like trampolines, and only let your child use age-appropriate playground equipment with soft material underneath like sand, rubber, or mulch.
If you believe your child may have already suffered a concussion from a past head injury, visit the Centers for Disease Control website for signs and symptoms or contact a medical professional near you right away. If you or your child is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.
Find more information on the myths and realities of concussions in my new book Coming to Our Senses about Concussion .
Share your experience
I’d love to hear about your experience with concussion, how it has affected you and your loved ones or what preventative measures you plan to take to protect your child.
Share your story with me on Twitter @ESandelMD using the hashtag #ConcussionSense or join my newsletter to stay informed on the latest developments in concussion research.