Child Head Injuries

Alarming data regarding the increase of head injuries among children was recently presented at a seminar held at Ziv Medical Center on the topic of Pediatric Neurology.

The Second Seminar on Pediatric Neurology, attended by physicians, interns and medical students, focused on the field of brain damage caused by minor and moderate head injuries and concussion in children and adolescents. The seminar was an initiative of Prof. Anthony Luder, Head of Ziv's Pediatric Department and Senior Advisor to the Dean of Bar-Ilan University's Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee and Prof. Harvey Bennett, a specialist in Pediatric Neurology in the Morristown Medical Center in New York.

The data presented at the seminar showd that head injuries often lead to death. There are many causes for head injuries and it is the most common cause of death among people under the age of 45 in developed countries, and the cause of death in about 50% of fatal road accidents. Head injuries can be caused by deliberate violence, falling accidents, especially in infants, elders or athletes.

A head injury does not always involve brain damage, but it may be expressed in concussion - the most common type of traumatic brain injury. A concussion occurs when the brain hits the sides of the skull due to a severe blow to the head and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) floods the brain and does not stop the shock. Head injury can cause a fracture of the skull, a stroke (damage to the blood supply to the brain), epileptic convulsions, infections or irritation of an errant nerve, vomiting, blurring and it is even believed that it can lead to changes in the person's character. As a result of a head injury, the heart rate may be slowed to the point of death.

Every year, about 2.5 million children in the USA are injured from physical activity in general, of which approximately 6.5% are head injuries.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports state that 65% of all non-fatal head injuries (concussions) following sporting activities which were brought to the emergency rooms were children.

Head injuries among children, compared to adults, are characterized by higher severity and longer recovery time. The report examined the characteristics of head injuries among children, recorded in data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System -  All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) referring to children and adolescents aged up to 19 who were treated in emergency care centers following mild brain injury resulting from competitive or other sports (including cycling, ball games, and playground activity).

71% of head injuries are among boys and the injuries are more common among adolescents (10 - 19, 70.5%). Over the years, there has been a 62% increase in referrals to emergency care centers from sport injuries in general, and a 75% increase in head injuries in particular (there was no significant increase over the years of hospitalizations following this injury). Most of the injuries among children up to the age of nine (girls and boys) occurred in playgrounds or while riding a bicycle. For adolescents, the majority of boys' injuries occurred during American football games and cycling and girls' injuries occurred during soccer or basketball.