Meredith’s Story – Brain Injury Awareness


March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and since brain injury is one of the most prevalent critical injuries children experience it seems appropriate to include the topic in our blog this month. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a form of acquired brain injury, occurring when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. Like other forms of pediatric trauma, brain injuries don’t discriminate, they can happen anywhere, at any time, to any child. The timely access to expert trauma care makes all the difference for these patients and can dramatically affect survival rates and future quality of life.

The Cross family learned how important it is to have appropriately trained first responders and a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center to provide emergency care. Their 15-year-old daughter Meredith was riding her horse without a helmet when she fell off, hitting the back of her head on a concrete pad. She sustained a life-threatening head injury that required emergency air transportation, CT scans and care from pediatric neurosurgeons. Meredith’s care included multiple procedures and surgeries by highly skilled pediatric specialists that were available at a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center.

Because of the expert care she received, Meredith was able to make a full recovery, eventually returning to school, as well as play in the marching band. In the years since, she has graduated from high school and is now attending college.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the access to expert care that Meredith did, but they should. Where you’re injured does make a difference. There is little time to travel long distances to the “best” place for care.

We should push for access to high-quality, expert pediatric trauma care for all children in the U.S. – no matter when or where they get hurt – and encourage everyone we know to do the same.

There are also things you should know that are proven to improve your child’s outcome if they are injured:

  • Call 911 for all serious injuries – it’s a proven fact that chances of survival are greatest if care is received within a short period of time after a severe injury
  • Know the location of your nearest trauma center – the risk of death for injured children is significantly lower when care is provided in a trauma center
  • Ask your emergency responder to take your child to a trauma center if at all possible, and more specifically, a pediatric trauma center if one is close enough
  • Advocate for increased medical education in your community – emergency medical technicians and other emergency care givers need specialized pediatric medical education to increase effectiveness for treating seriously-injured children

If your child suffers a TBI or any other type of life-threatening injury and doesn’t receive highly-trained care immediately, then your family’s life could change forever. Children need you to be their advocates. Be informed about your options and how we can all improve care for our children when they are injured. With your help we can change the outcome from devastation to hope for many children and their families, and help ensure a happy ending to their story – just like Meredith’s.

 

To hear Meredith and her family tell their story, visit http://bit.ly/1qvWH0N. For more information about brain injuries you can visit the CDC’s Injury Center at http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/or the Brain Injury Association of America at http://www.biausa.org/.

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