Skip to content
February 25, 2015 / Mark Kerrigan

Falls top list for TBIs of kids

Balance Bike Ridden by Child Wearing Helmet

Everyone, parent or not, knows that kids fall. My son ran headlong into doors, fell off tables, and even hit the floor when I fell down the stairs carrying him. (That’s a long story–I’ll try to get to it later…)  But did you know how many Brain Injuries (BIs) are caused by falls?

In the Nov. 13 New England Journal of Medicine, the results of a study of more than 43,000 children led by Dr. Nathan Kuppermann, a professor in the departments of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine were published. The leading cause of BIs for children, individuals under the age of 18, was falls.

Dr. Nathan Kuppermann

Dr. Nathan Kuppermann

For parents, the numbers can be frightening: under 2 years of age, 77% of BI are the result of falls. Seventy-seven! I don’t know if that’s a reassuring fact–Maybe there aren’t that many BIs in infants and newborns. For children between 2 and 12, the number is cut by half, and is only 38 percent. 

For children between age 13-17, the leading causes of BI were assaults, sports, and car crashes. Over recent years, we have seen an increase in the use of bike helmets and even helmets when skiing. That’s reassuring. I began wearing a bike helmet–not by choice, mind you–after a bicycle accident I had when I lost my left front tooth.

I was trying to slalom between acorns on the street and lost control of my bike throwing me, teeth first, into the pavement. I don’t remember much after that for several hours just that I thought my parents wouldn’t notice the gap in my smile with my left front tooth was missing. (Duh!) So after that, I was forced to wear a helmet whenever I got on a bike or a skateboard.

“Bike helmets and seatbelts can save your kid’s brain,” Dr. Kuppermann said.

Fewer than half the kids who were injured in car wrecks were wearing seatbelts. The kids injured in bike accidents were wearing helmets less than 20% of the time, he said. While a seatbelt or helmet won’t guarantee you won’t get a BI, it certainly cuts the chances. When I had my car crash, I was wearing my seatbelt. If I weren’t, I’d be dead. The police report said I was unrestrained, but my mother told me I had terrible bruises and abrasions where the seatbelt had been. I figure the police just reported what they saw: I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time they arrived to the scene.

Because of the prevalence of seatbelts over recent years, the deaths from car crashes has dropped dramatically.

Dr. John Kuluz, director of traumatic brain injury and neurorehabilitation at Miami Children’s Hospital, said, “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths among children from car accidents has dropped 40 percent.” (Taken from HealthDay News)

While seatbelts cannot take all the credit for this fact, they, combined with airbags, have brought the numbers of severe TBIs down significantly. Kuluz said that 98% of head injuries seen in ERs were classified as “mild.”

Mild takes on a whole new definition here: it refers to the force or impact causing the trauma; it does NOT refer to the problems attributed to it. A mild TBI is the result of the forceful motion of the head or some other object impacting the head, causing a brief period of unconsciousness (less than 30 minutes). (From

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 9.39.39 PMBefore my MVA, I was athletic, and quite popular–even if I was a bit of a nerd. After my wreck, I lost all my athletic ability, a good bit of my muscle mass. What I gained was a sense of the world revolving around me. I was in the spotlight all the time. And when it was on someone else, I typically acted out–doing something inappropriate to gain the attention of the people around me, whether in a good way or a bad way. I was in the 99 percentile in math, above average in the English/language areas, but I really didn’t excel in English. I could dissect a sentence and my grammar was almost impecible, but I really didn’t enjoy literature or writing.

However, the study did not include concussions, which simply jostle the brain, but rather more serious injuries which caused bleeding inside the brain. Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, published on Nov. 13, Kuppermann explains what the purpose of the study really was.

“The study gives a picture of how children suffer serious head injuries, and how often they get CT scans and how often they undergo brain surgery,” Kuppermann said.

For the study, the researchers used data collected from 2004 to 2006 from emergency departments in 25 U.S. hospitals. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below or leave it in the contact us box.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: