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Daily Dose

Tragic Accidents

1:30 to read

There have been several recent tragic accidents in the national news involving young children one of whom was injured while another died. Just the other day there was a death in our community of a young child who had been forgotten in the family car during the summer heat. I am heartsick for the families that have been involved in all of these situations.  But, I am even more sickened by the fact that there has been such a backlash against these parents and “shaming” rather than compassion.

I have practiced pediatrics long enough to have known several children who died in tragic accidents. Yes, accidents!   For my parenting “peer” group,  these accidents occurred long before social media, and the constant barrage of iPhone footage being shown on a news loop across the country 24 hours a day.  Fortunately, for my friends who lost a child, or for a child I cared for in my practice, the out pouring of sadness and compassion came from their family, friends and neighbors.  I cannot remember anyone “judging” these parents as we too all had small children and our whispered sentiments were often, “there but for the grace of God go I”.

If you are in the throes of raising your children, I would expect that you can remember and now   understand what your parents told you and mine told me, “accidents happen”. Fortunately for most of us these accidents involve bumps, bruises, stitches or even broken bones.  When that happens, I would heave a big sigh of relief that all of these “accidents” and injuries were “fixable”, even if they left a few scars.  (My boys were great at soothing my tears as they said, “scars are cool Mom”).

Fast forward to today and the sentiments seem to have changed.  Over the last weeks, I have watched TV and read different sites on the internet only to see and hear too many terribly mean and downright hurtful comments regarding the parents of the children involved in the accidents. Whether it was the child who fell into the gorilla enclosure who thankfully survived, or the toddler who was pulled into the lagoon by an alligator and drowned, or the child who died in a hot car….these are just unspeakable, tragic accidents. It doesn’t matter how many children you have, it is not possible to keep your child within arms reach, or to have constant eye contact with them from birth-21 years of age (and accidents happen after that as well). I just had an friend who lost her 29 year old son in a tragic accident on their ranch….I am heartsick for them. 

The definition of an accident is “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, that typically results in damage or injury”.  So, it is not a planned event, or even something that is preventable, despite all of the latest gizmos and safety features we wrap around our children. But when the tragic unforeseen accident occurs and a child is harmed, who are we to judge that parent or family. These were not cases of child abuse, or of a child being left unattended , or not riding in a car seat…these were all accidents that occurred within a few feet of the parents. Horrible, terrible, unfair and all accidental.

So, as both a parent and pediatrician I wonder what has happened to empathy in today’s society? Would it not be more appropriate for the parenting public to be saying ( or posting or texting or whatever)  “there but for the grace of God go I ”? These are the times you hug your child a bit tighter or call them to just check in and hope and pray that you never find yourself on the other side of an accident, because accidents can happen - even to great parents and happy children. 

Daily Dose

Sledding Accidents

Over 20,000 children were seen in the emergency room for sledding accidents. how to keep your kids safe while still having fun.With another major snowstorm hitting most of the East Coast and blanketing the south in ice, it seems like there will be several more “snow days” with children (and their parents) home from school.

I have such fond memories of growing up in Washington, D.C. and the idyllic “snow days” spent outside with our Radio Flyer sleds.  My brother and I would head out the door for the big hill right outside of our house which would become a mecca for the sledders. The street was fairly steep and for that reason was often closed (guess they didn’t make 4 wheel drive vehicles then?), and the hill was perfect for a fast ride that was probably ¼ mile long. The ride down was glorious, the trek back up seemed VERY long.  Those were the days!  We could spend hours out there, only coming in long enough to change out of wet gloves, grab a hot chocolate, and back out we went. I must say, most of the time there was very little adult supervision, and thankfully there were no “major” injuries that I recall. With those memories in mind I decided to do a little research on sledding safety and accidents. An article in the September 2010 issue of Pediatrics reviewed sled related injuries.   Did you realize that there were over 230,000 sledding injuries reported over a 10 year retrospective period, in other words more than 20,000/year and those were only those that were seen in emergency rooms. There were probably many more that went unreported as the child was seen in an urgent care, or private practice rather than ER. Children 10 – 14 years of age were in involved in 42.5% of sledding related injuries and boys represented about 60% of all cases.  WOW! Sleds can reach speeds of up to 20-25 mph and head trauma is one of the biggest concerns.  It is reported that the head was the most commonly injured body part (I feel lucky that I survived those sled races) and that injuries to the head were twice as likely to following a collision. Children 4 years of age and younger were 4 times more likely to sustain a head injury. Other injuries reported from sled related accidents included fractures, contusions and abrasions.  In this study about 4% of cases required hospitalization and of this number nearly half were due to fractures while about ¼ were due to traumatic brain injuries. The injuries were more common when toboggans, snow tubes or discs were used than with traditional sleds that have a steering mechanism. Another interesting finding was that many of the injuries occurred due to the fact that the sled was being pulled by a motorized vehicle which resulted in more collisions. As you well know, the advent of helmets has really helped to prevent injuries from biking, and helmets are now recommended for sledding, skiing and snowboarding.    A report from the consumer product safety commission showed a 58% reduction in head injuries among children less than 15 years of age after helmets were used for skiing and snowboarding. As more and more people wear helmets for these activities one would hope to see a decrease in injuries reported from sledding. To ensure safety while sledding make sure that there is parental/adult supervision at all times. Sledding on streets should be discouraged and never sled where a hill meets a pond which may not yet be frozen. Sledding slopes should be free of tress and other obstacles that might cause collisions.  Children should sit up and face forward and never sled head first. Sleds should never be pulled by a motorized vehicle, which includes a snow mobile.  Sleds with the potential to rotate like discs (I guess that is the flying saucer of old) and snow tubes may carry significant risks, and should be discouraged. With 49 of 50 states currently reporting have snow “somewhere” on the ground make the winter sledding safety a priority and go buy a helmet and have fun. That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comments to me. I would love to hear from you.

Daily Dose

ATV Accidents

1:15 to read

I had just recently read an article about “all-terrain vehicles” and helmet use, when I received a call that a friend had been involved in a accident on an ATV while on vacation.  One of those “odd” coincidences.  My friend suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs…..very lucky, and he was not wearing a helmet!

The CDC recently conducted a survey to estimate the frequency of ATV riding among kids between the ages of 12-17 years.  They found that about 25% of youths responded that they had ridden an ATV in the last year. Males were found to ride more frequently than females.

(not a surprise).  Geographically, there were more riders in the South, lower in the Northeast, and rural areas had more riders than urban areas.

But…only 45% of riders reported always wearing a helmet!! Twenty percent of riders reported wear a helmet “sometimes”, while 10% reported that they seldom wore and helmet and 25% admitted to NEVER wearing a helmet.  Interestingly, riders who rode more frequently were more likely to wear a helmet.

ATV accidents are quite common.  The AAP has advocated prohibiting the use of ATV’s by children under 16 years of age.  Statistically, between 20-25% of injuries and deaths secondary to an ATV accident are in children under the age of 16, with deadly ATV accidents peaking between 14-15. Head injuries occur in at least 60% of ATV deaths. Helmet use is associated with reduced risk of traumatic brain injuries, but unfortunately the CDC survey shows that many teens continue to ride without helmets.

It seems that many vacation destinations worldwide will often offer ATV excursions or rentals. Parents need to be aware of the risks involved while riding an ATV with their children or having their children driving one alone. As my own children used to say, “everything we think is fun, you think is dangerous”, and I am sure I said that many times. They have also ridden ATV’s and as far as I am aware always with a helmet.  

Whatever your views, parental supervision and helmet use is one way to help prevent serious injuries.  Be safe, listen to the rules of the road and wear a helmet! My friend was truly fortunate.

Daily Dose

Sledding Accidents

Over 20,000 children were seen in the emergency room for sledding accidents. how to keep your kids safe while still having fun.With another major snowstorm hitting most of the East Coast and blanketing the south in ice, it seems like there will be several more “snow days” with children (and their parents) home from school.

I have such fond memories of growing up in Washington, D.C. and the idyllic “snow days” spent outside with our Radio Flyer sleds.  My brother and I would head out the door for the big hill right outside of our house which would become a mecca for the sledders. The street was fairly steep and for that reason was often closed (guess they didn’t make 4 wheel drive vehicles then?), and the hill was perfect for a fast ride that was probably ¼ mile long. The ride down was glorious, the trek back up seemed VERY long.  Those were the days!  We could spend hours out there, only coming in long enough to change out of wet gloves, grab a hot chocolate, and back out we went. I must say, most of the time there was very little adult supervision, and thankfully there were no “major” injuries that I recall. With those memories in mind I decided to do a little research on sledding safety and accidents. An article in the September 2010 issue of Pediatrics reviewed sled related injuries.   Did you realize that there were over 230,000 sledding injuries reported over a 10 year retrospective period, in other words more than 20,000/year and those were only those that were seen in emergency rooms. There were probably many more that went unreported as the child was seen in an urgent care, or private practice rather than ER. Children 10 – 14 years of age were in involved in 42.5% of sledding related injuries and boys represented about 60% of all cases.  WOW! Sleds can reach speeds of up to 20-25 mph and head trauma is one of the biggest concerns.  It is reported that the head was the most commonly injured body part (I feel lucky that I survived those sled races) and that injuries to the head were twice as likely to following a collision. Children 4 years of age and younger were 4 times more likely to sustain a head injury. Other injuries reported from sled related accidents included fractures, contusions and abrasions.  In this study about 4% of cases required hospitalization and of this number nearly half were due to fractures while about ¼ were due to traumatic brain injuries. The injuries were more common when toboggans, snow tubes or discs were used than with traditional sleds that have a steering mechanism. Another interesting finding was that many of the injuries occurred due to the fact that the sled was being pulled by a motorized vehicle which resulted in more collisions. As you well know, the advent of helmets has really helped to prevent injuries from biking, and helmets are now recommended for sledding, skiing and snowboarding.    A report from the consumer product safety commission showed a 58% reduction in head injuries among children less than 15 years of age after helmets were used for skiing and snowboarding. As more and more people wear helmets for these activities one would hope to see a decrease in injuries reported from sledding. To ensure safety while sledding make sure that there is parental/adult supervision at all times. Sledding on streets should be discouraged and never sled where a hill meets a pond which may not yet be frozen. Sledding slopes should be free of tress and other obstacles that might cause collisions.  Children should sit up and face forward and never sled head first. Sleds should never be pulled by a motorized vehicle, which includes a snow mobile.  Sleds with the potential to rotate like discs (I guess that is the flying saucer of old) and snow tubes may carry significant risks, and should be discouraged. With 49 of 50 states currently reporting have snow “somewhere” on the ground make the winter sledding safety a priority and go buy a helmet and have fun. That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comments to me. I would love to hear from you.

Daily Dose

Accidents Can Happen Any Time, Even on Holidays

Well, Thanksgiving evening and I am going to write really quickly about “normal” family days.

As everyone knows, we have an approaching wedding and we now have a son who “does” two Thanksgiving events with soon to be in-laws. The eldest son was nice enough to invite his younger brother to join him for drive to the country for Thanksgiving lunch and some “shooting” on the ranch. While they headed out for Thanksgiving lunch, I was at home preparing Thanksgiving dinner for our side of the family. Perfect day!! So… about mid-afternoon we get a phone call from eldest son. “Hi Mom, everyone is okay”, but the youngest has had an accident and has lacerated his brow while at the ranch and it looks like it needs some stitches”. The youngest has also previously had a pretty serious dog bite to his face about 8 years ago, and still has scars to show for it. This time it is in his brow line and it is from the “scope” on the rifle. Can you tell that we are not a hunting family? Of course I am hugely relieved that he is OK, they are going to stay and eat lunch, have put ice and a “butterfly” on it, and will be home in several hours. I continue to cook while calling all of my doctor friends, and forwarding them a picture of his injury, (what did we do before emails and phones with cameras?) So now, while I thought I would sit down and blog on a topical subject, I am actually clearing the table, and heading to the plastic surgeons to get the “baby” son’s face stitched. This whole afternoon actually makes me reflect on how fortunate we are that he only needs stitches, and how many accidents “lurk” around every corner. I am thankful for good friends, and good doctors.  He will be fine, and we will all sit down for dessert after we get back. I hope everyone has had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. Next week back to business!  I guess I will get to take out the stitches! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

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A few life lessons & fun with Elf on the Shelf!

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