St. Louis Children's Hospital Sees Head Injuries Spike in Winter Weather
St. Louis Children’s Hospital emergency department visits for head injury increased by 20 percent from January 2013 to January 2014.
St. Louis, MO (PRWEB) February 28, 2014
When temperatures drop and snow falls, road conditions deteriorate and car accidents increase. Children head outside with their sleds, and, just as reliably, certain types of emergency department visits increase. In January 2014, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Emergency Department treated more than 200 patients with head injuries – 20 percent more than in the same month in 2013.
“While records indicate a temperature difference of only a few degrees between January of last year and January of this year, we have seen a lot more snow and ice, which accounts for a lot of accidents,” says Angela Lumba-Brown, MD, an emergency physician with Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Though most traumatic brain injuries are mild, severe brain injuries can be devastating, even deadly. Brain trauma is a leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. A traumatic brain injury occurs when there is a direct blow, jolt, or transmitted force to the head that results in brain bleeding, swelling or tissue injury. In serious injuries, outcomes can be devastating. And with only a little let-up in the weather, Dr. Lumba-Brown suggests taking extra steps to prevent injury from happening.
Prevent Car Accidents
- Drive cautiously, always wear seatbelts, obey the speed limits and decrease speed, taking winter weather into account.
- Properly restrain children: toddlers should sit in rear-facing carseats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. Properly restrained, they are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured if a crash occurs.
- A standard seatbelt is appropriate for children who are four feet nine inches tall, and are between 8 and 12 years of age. The shoulder belt should fit over the chest and a lap belt low on the hips – never over the neck or belly.
- The leading cause of death in teenagers is motor vehicle accidents. Parents should instruct them in a car with airbags or delay them taking the wheel.
- Texting and driving is always dangerous, but particularly when road conditions are unpredictable.
- Teenage drinking and driving is a lethal mix, not only for the drunk driver, but also for whomever they hit. Take precautions by educating your teens and notifying law enforcement of observed dangerous drivers.
Prevent Further Injury after a Car Accident
- Call 911 and wait for help.
- Do not get out of your car on the roadside.
- If your child was struck in the head and is unconscious, clear space around him, keep him covered and warm, and follow the instructions of 911 personnel over the phone.
- Do not try to move an unconscious child with a head injury until help arrives.
- In serious situations, your child will be taken to the hospital in an ambulance or by helicopter. You can help by being up to date on your child’s medications, vaccinations, allergies and important medical history.
Prevent Winter Sports Injury
- There are 20,000 emergency department visits a year for children involved in sledding accidents and 30 percent of these involve head injuries.
- Children are most likely to be injured when they are pulled on a sled by motorized vehicles like ATVs or cars – prohibit any towing and always wear helmets.
- Brain injuries are the main cause of death in children’s ski accidents. Always make sure your child is wearing a properly fitted helmet, and avoid potentially icy areas.