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Greater Awareness of Brain Injuries Leads to Increase in Emergency Room Visits Among Children

Awareness of the dangerous effect of brain injuries is finally starting to build. This is reflected in the results of a report released yesterday on the number of children being treated for traumatic brain injuries in emergency rooms.

The Centers for Disease Control reported that the number of children (age 19 and younger) receiving treatment for TBI in the ER increased significantly over the past decade. The number grew from 153,373 in 2001 to 248,418 in 2009. That is a 62 percent increase.

The director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Linda C. Degutis, provided some context for the numbers. "We believe that one reasons for the increase in emergency department visits among children and adolescents may be a result of the growing awareness among parents and coaches, and the public as a whole, about the need for individuals with a suspected TBI to be seen by a health care professional," she said.

The CDC data showed that many more boys than girls are being treated. Boys accounted for more than 7 out of 10 ER visits. Both genders are at risk of bike accidents and motor vehicle accidents. But boys are also often injured playing football.

Overall, it's a good thing that brain injuries among children are getting more attention than they used. Research findings have repeatedly shown that concussions and other head injuries can increase the risk of more serious consequences later in life. This can include long-term cognitive impairment.

Now the challenge is to find ways to prevent more injuries in the first place.

Source: "CDC: ER visits for conclusions and other brain injuries among kids jump," Washington Post, 10-6-11

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