Most of the concussions of children and teens are due to everyday objects. For the youngest children, the fall of the bed is the most important risk factor.
Concussions are cranial trauma defined as "a complex pathophysiological process involving the brain, induced by biomechanical forces" resulting in "rapidly a brief alteration of the neurological function that is spontaneously restored". A concussion may result from a direct impact to the head, face, neck, or shock on another part of the body transmitting an impulsive force to the head. In the long term, repeated concussions expose to an increased risk of diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
In the United States, nearly one million children and adolescents are treated each year in the emergency room because of an injury of this kind. And according to a study published in the journal Brain Injury, these dramas often take place using everyday objects such as bed, stairs or even a bike. In 72% of cases, injuries are attributed to objects authorized by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent agency of the US government created to protect people against "unreasonable risks of injury from consumer products" .
To arrive at this conclusion, the authors examined data identifying non-fatal head injuries of children aged 0 to 19 in the United States Emergency Department between 2010 (included) and 2013. Result: annually, in infants, a quarter of head trauma is caused by a fall from bed while an uneven floor represents the second risk factor (14%). In children aged one to four, most injuries occurred when falling from a bed (10%), a staircase (10%), or stumbling on the floor (10%).
Wear these helmets, install barriers, avoid hard surfaces ...
Unsurprisingly, the more children grow up, the more shocks take place outdoors. Thus, if 6% of 5 to 19 year olds are injured especially when they fall on an uneven surface (6%), bicycle accidents also cause a lot of damage to the head (5%). Finally, in the 10-14 age group and the 15-19 age group, the leading cause of head trauma is American football, which accounts for 14% and 9% of shocks, respectively. Basketball, biking and football then come as the main risk factors in these two age groups.
"In most cases, children and infants are safe when they are in bed or play outside but our study sheds light on the risks and steps to be taken to prevent serious head injuries at different ages" says Dr. Bina Ali of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in charge of the study.
"Reducing trip hazards, using gates, avoiding hard ground playgrounds and wearing helmets could help reduce the risk of injury, as well as educate adults to ensure proper use of products and stick to official recommendations, "she continues.
This study has some limitations
But this study has limitations, concede the researchers. Since the data only represents patients treated in the emergency department, the shocks handled by the doctor or school infirmaries are not recorded. In addition, scientists are unaware of the socio-economic status of parents.
Remember that in France, wearing a bicycle helmet is mandatory for all children under 12 years of age since March 2017. From now on, a person carrying or accompanying a child under 12 without a bicycle helmet will have to pay a fourth class fine of 90 euros. With this measure, the authorities hope to see this practice spread by ricochet among cyclists of all ages. According to Road Safety, the helmet reduces the risk of serious head injury by 70%, minor injury by 31% and facial injury by 28%.