Head Injury: Prevention

A blow to the head usually causes a minor injury and leave only a bump. However, a blow to the head may also jar or bruise the brain. Most head injuries heal, but damage to the brain can be permanent. Many serious head injuries can be prevented by taking the following precautions:

  • Never leave an infant of any age alone on a high place like a bed, sofa, changing table, or an exam table in the doctor’s office. Your baby may unexpectedly roll over for the first time or wiggle off and fall on his head.
  • Always keep the side rails up on the crib. As soon as your child can pull to standing in the crib, lower the mattress.
  • When you drive, place your child in a car safety seat. All states have child-restraint laws and with good reason: They greatly reduce injuries and deaths.
  • To prevent pedestrian accidents, teach your child to look both ways before crossing and while crossing a street or alley. Teach him to use crosswalks and not to run across the street. Most children cannot safely cross the street alone until age 7 or 8.
  • Don’t buy a baby walker. They do not help your baby develop walking skills. Over one-third of infants who use walkers have accidents requiring emergency care.
  • Don’t leave your child unattended in a shopping cart.
  • Place a sturdy gate at the top of stairways. Keep the stairway cleared of clutter. When your child starts to climb stairs, teach him to hold onto the banister when he goes down the stairs.
  • Keep doors leading to the basement or outdoors closed. Secure them with an extra latch above the child’s reach.
  • Don’t buy a bunk bed. If you already have one, keep children under age 6 years out of the top bunk and use a side rail. Be sure the bed frame is strong enough to keep the mattress from falling through. And don’t let your children jump on beds.
  • If you live on an upper floor of a building, install window locks or guards.
  • Don’t leave younger children under the supervision of an aggressive sibling.
  • Always supervise your child’s outside play until she can be trusted to stay in the yard (age 4 or 5). Three-year-olds can’t be expected to keep promises not to go near the street.
  • Don’t teach your child how to ride a bicycle until your child is old enough (age 7 or 8) to understand safety issues such as emergency stops and rules about right-of-way.
  • Make sure your child wears the proper headgear and safety equipment when riding a bike, rollerskating, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, and playing contact sports. Children younger than 16 years old should not ride ATVs or motorcycles. They don’t have the strength, skills or experience to handle these vehicles safely, even with a helmet.
  • Forbid trampolines. Serious accidents have occurred even with close supervision.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-19
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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