KidsMD Health Topics

Head or Brain Injury in Children

  • As a parent, when you hear that your child might have a head injury, your natural instinct is to conjure up the worst possible scenario. However, while some head injuries do cause serious and lasting damage, it’s important to remember that “head injury” is a broad term describing many different types of trauma—ranging from mild to severe.

    Here are some of the facts about head injuries:

    • Head injuries can be anything from cuts, bumps and bruises to concussions, skull fractures and serious brain injuries.

    • Head injuries are common in children and adolescents of all ages.

    • They occur twice as often in males as in females.

    • Studies indicate that head injuries are more likely to occur in the spring and summer months and on weekends, when children are most active outdoors.

    Another key point is that “head injury” and “brain injury” aren’t necessarily the same thing: Not every head injury will impact the brain. Here are some of the statistics about pediatric brain injury (courtesy of the Brain Injury Association of America):

    • Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death in children and adolescents nationwide.

    • The age groups most at risk for brain injury are newborns through age 4 and teens from 15 to 19.

    • Every year, an average of 564,000 children are treated for brain injuries in the Emergency Room, and 62,000 children with brain injuries are hospitalized.

    While treatment options depend on the specifics and severity of the particular injury, you can rest assured that Children’s Hospital Boston has the world-renowned expertise and state-of-the-art tools to give you, your child and your family the care you need.

    How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches head injuries/brain injuries

    Every year, Children’s treats hundreds of patients—from infants and young adults—with the full spectrum of head and brain injuries.

    In addition, we have a dedicated Sports Concussion Clinic for children and teens who have sustained concussions during recreational or competitive athletics.

    Working together, our clinicians will develop a customized treatment plan that meets your child's physical, emotional and social needs—and involves you and your family at every step of the way.

    And Children’s is committed to advocating for more rigorous head and brain injury prevention measures and broader public awareness at the local, regional and national levels, too:

    • We have a specialized Injury Prevention Program that aims to significantly reduce the number of preventable injuries in children through a combination of education and research.
       
    • Children’s has been named the National Lead Center for the Prevention of Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) and the Massachusetts Lead Center for PABI by the Sarah Jane Brain Project, a national organization focused on the prevention and treatment of acquired brain injury in children. Read more.

    Led by Brain Injury Center director and neurosurgeon Mark R. Proctor, MD, Children’s successfully advocated for legislation that makes concussion education a requirement for all athletes who participate on Massachusetts public school teams, as well as for parent volunteers, school medical personnel and coaches. 

    Head injury/brain injury: Reviewed by Mark R. Proctor, MD
    © Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2011

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