Traumatic brain injury or TBI happens when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain.
While most folks associate TBI with professional athletes, brain injury often happens to the very young.
Brain injury from accidents
Purva Grover, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s said often times severe brain injury can happen with something as common as a parent tripping and falling while holding a child.
“More than two times the height of the child is considered traumatic, because that can make a huge impact to the brain,” said Dr. Grover.
Dr. Grover said children can even suffer TBI as the result of horseplay at home.
If one child pushes another child, they could hit their head on the floor, or a wall, causing injury.
Sometimes places that may seem perfectly safe for infants, such as car seats and high chairs can pose a risk for TBI if parents aren’t careful.
High chairs placed too closely to tables allow children to kick their feet off of the table and push the chair over backwards.
Dr. Grover said car seat injuries can happen even when a child is buckled in.
“We’re ready to go outside somewhere, the child is buckled up appropriately in a car seat, we put the car seat on a counter, because, ‘I’m just going to grab my purse,’ or whatever, and the next thing you know is just by the inertia of the rocking motion, the child can fall down,” said Dr. Grover
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate or severe depending on how badly the brain has been damaged.
Dr. Grover said a brain injury does not just impact the brain’s ability to think. Because the brain controls all functions, a child may have life-threatening reactions as a result of TBI, such as difficulty breathing or maintaining a regular heartbeat.
If a child begins vomiting, shows weakness in one side of the body or complains of a headache after hitting their head, they should be brought to an emergency department right away.