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Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury in Your Child

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- When it comes to traumatic brain injury (TBI), you can’t have too much information. Traumatic brain injuries affect millions of Americans each year, and each TBI experience is unique.  Be sure to know the signs and symptoms of TBI as well as how you can prevent yourself and your loved ones from experiencing it.

TBI is caused by an external force, such as blows to the head, gunshot wounds, or the head being shaken violently. Concussion, also called mild TBI, is the most common type of brain injury and can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because a person may or may not become unconscious and the damage may or may not show up on a diagnostic imaging test, such as a CAT scan.  A contusion, or a bruise on your brain, can result from a direct blow to the head and can also cause TBI.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of traumatic brain injury is falls. Because the brain is soft and jello-like in consistency and “floats” in cerebral-spinal fluid in our skulls, when the head is struck or shaken violently it can cause brain injury.

You can help prevent your child from getting a TBI by always using age and size-appropriate car seats, and by making sure they are properly installed. Also, make sure your child always wears the right helmet for activities such as riding a bicycle or playing sports and make sure it fits right. Wearing a helmet is a must to help lower the risk of serious brain injury and skull fracture. While helmets promote safety, please know that there’s no such thing as a “concussion-proof” helmet.

If you have a toddler, make sure to have gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs to prevent your baby from falling down them. If you take your child to the playground, make sure that there is soft material under the play equipment, like mulch or sand rather than grass or dirt.

TRICARE offers TBI treatment through a robust rehabilitation benefit that includes occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), speech therapy and behavioral health services when ordered by a physician as part of a comprehensive individual rehabilitation treatment plan. Though TRICARE does not cover Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy as a stand-alone therapy, many physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists use CRT techniques in their covered therapies and treatments for TBI. For more information, visit the Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy page on the TRICARE website. For specific coverage details, contact your regional contractor.