The #1 Cause of Injury to children in car accidents is head injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, children over the age of one were more likely to have cuts, bruises, and fractures of the head, while children under the age of one usually sustained concussions. These types of injuries have particularly serious impacts on children because of their skeletal development, and can cause effects ranging from reading disabilities and developmental delay to paralysis and psychological disorders. Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries can experience lasting or late-appearing neuropsychological problems, highlighting the need for careful monitoring of children as they grow older. For this reason, head injuries are of particular concern when studying children injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In children, some neurological deficits after head trauma may not manifest for many years. Frontal lobe functions, for example, develop relatively late in a child’s growth, so that injury to the frontal lobes may not become apparent until the child reaches adolescence when higher level reasoning develops. Since the frontal lobes control social interactions and interpersonal skills, early childhood brain damage may not manifest until such frontal lobe skills are called into play later in development. Likewise, injury to reading and writing centers in the brain may not become apparent until the child reaches school age and shows signs of delayed reading and writing skills.
Infants and young children with brain injuries may lack the communication skills to report headaches, sensory problems, confusion and similar symptoms. In a child with traumatic brain injury, you may observe:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disorient
- Change in eating or nursing habits/ Nausea or vomiting
- Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
- Unusual or easy irritability
- Change in ability to pay attention
- Change in sleep habits
- Sad or depressed mood
- Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
Always see your doctor if you or your child has received a blow to the head or body that concerns you or causes behavioral changes. Seek emergency medical care following an accident in which children are in the vehicle.
Be safe out there!! Marianne Howanitz