Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are on the rise at playgrounds across the U.S., according to a new study published by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
For the study, which was published May 2 in the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers looked at the 2005-2013 injury rates among children younger than age 14 and found a significant increase in the number of children being diagnosed with some form of traumatic brain injury.
The study’s authors pointed to two possible causes for the increase: an increase in the amount of playground time for children at home or at school and an increased awareness among parents and doctors about the dangers of head injuries, including seemingly minor bumps on the head.
The study’s authors noted it is “plausible that heightened public awareness of TBI and concussions has prompted parents to seek medical care for their children in the event of a head injury, when previously they would not have done so.”
TBIs among athletes of all ages, but especially professional football players, have been given significant coverage in the press in recent years as the link between concussions and brain disease becomes clearer.
According to the playground injury study, boys accounted for 58.6 percent of emergency-room TBIs, and children between ages 5 and 9 accounted for 50.6 percent of the children diagnosed. The overwhelming majority of children diagnosed with TBI – 95.6 percent – were mild cases. These children were treated and released without further care required, the study noted.
Data available from reports showed that most playground-related TBIs are linked to monkey bars and swings.
While the study doesn’t yield any surprising information, the numbers could serve as a solid baseline by which to gauge future pediatric TBIs.
Parents and caregivers should seek medical attention for children if any degree of head injury is witnessed or suspected. Symptoms of a serious head injury include loss of consciousness, persistent vomiting, lethargy, change of behavior, and confusion.
While almost all children who suffer a concussion or other form of TBI will turn out fine, untreated and recurrent TBI can inhibit the development of the child’s brain and put him or her at increased risk of anxiety, depression, brain disease and various cognitive disorders years later.
Source: ABC News