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After The Injury: Helping your Child Cope. by Priyanka ,  Mar 6, 2013
Every year millions of children in the US are injured. Most do well. A prescription for full recovery? Take care of pain and physical healing AND pay attention to emotional needs.

This section of the website offers some general information about common injuries and tips for home management, as well as helpful hints for pain management and injury prevention.

Remember, your healthcare provider is the best source for information regarding your child's injury. If you have specific questions or concerns about your child's injury or treatment, please make sure to talk with your healthcare provider. If any information in this website is different from what your healthcare provider recommends, follow your healthcare provider's advice.

Full recovery goes beyond physical healing - learn more about your child's emotional recovery after an injury, and how you can help.

Injury Prevention Tips

Each year, one in every four children is treated by a doctor because of an injury such as a fall from a bicycle or an animal bite. Some of these injuries are minor, but many of them are very serious.

You can’t always stop your children from getting bumps and bruises but you can reduce the chances that they’ll be seriously injured by taking safety precautions such as always buckling up in motor vehicles.

Click here to find more safety tips on topics such as child passenger safety, bicycle safety, dog bites, falls, pedestrian safety, fire safety, water safety and more.

Click here for more resources on injury and prevention.

Full recovery goes beyond physical healing - learn more about your child's emotional recovery after an injury, and how you can help.

Injury and Pain Care

Abdominal Trauma

This section of the website offers some general information about common injuries and tips for home management, as well as helpful hints for pain management and injury prevention.

Remember, your healthcare provider is the best source for information regarding your child's injury. If you have specific questions or concerns about your child's injury or treatment, please make sure to talk with your healthcare provider. If any information in this website is different from what your healthcare provider recommends, follow your healthcare provider's advice.

Full recovery goes beyond physical healing - learn more about your child's emotional recovery after an injury, and how you can help.

Abdominal Trauma

Abdominal trauma involves injury to the belly between the chest and the hips and the internal organs there – the most common injuries to organs in the belly include the small intestine, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder.

Click here for a glossary with information on anatomy and types of injury.

  1. Follow instructions provided by your healthcare provider (doctor or nurse practitioner). It is important that your child follow all of the special instructions given by your healthcare provider to decrease any risk of bleeding inside.
  2. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider:
    • How long should my child only have minimal activity or "house arrest"? This will generally depend on the grade of injury to your child's organ or how severe it was. Your doctor will tell you what minimal activity means. It could include activities such as quiet play, reading, coloring, and watching TV. It probably means that your child will have to avoid sports for a period of time.
    • When can my child return to school?
    • When can my child start gym? contact sports? biking? or rough play?
    • This will also depend on the grade of injury to your child's organ or how severe it was.
    • What is the best number to call for emergencies during the week? On weekends?
  3. When to call your healthcare provider:
    • Ask your healthcare provider for specific signs and symptoms that should alert you to call them right away. They may include the following: Signs of intra-abdominal bleeding (bleeding in the belly) such as:
    • Looking pale
    • Lethargy (hard to keep awake)
    • Blood in urine, stools (bowel movement) or vomitus (throw up)
    • Fever (temperature greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.5 degrees Celsius)
    • Increased pain
    • Vomiting (or throwing up)
    • Any other concerns that you may have.
  4. For more information and resources on injury care, click here.
  5. Decrease your child's risk of future injuries.Click here for more information.
  6. Full recovery goes beyond physical healing - learn more about your child's emotional recovery after an injury, and how you can help.

Using Crutches

For hip, leg, knee, ankle, or foot injuries, your healthcare provider may order crutches to decrease pain, speed recovery, and help with walking. Make sure that a trained healthcare professional fits your child for child-sized crutches and teaches your child how to use them.

Ask your healthcare provider for specific signs and symptoms that should alert you to call them right away. They may include the following:

  1. Follow instructions provided by your healthcare provider (doctor or nurse practitioner) It is important that your child follow all of the special instructions given by your healthcare provider to make sure that your child heals completely. If you have any questions or concerns about the fit of your child's crutches or what should or should not do while on crutches, please contact your healthcare provider.

    General tips:

    • Remind your child that crutches are not toys or weapons.
    • Even if your child may be feeling better, make sure to use the crutches as long as your healthcare provider told you to use them. If you start putting weight on the leg too soon, you might cause a new injury or increase the recovery time.

    Precautions – your child should:

    • Be very careful on slick or wet surfaces (like in the kitchen and the bathroom).
    • Be careful of throw rugs that can slip. They should be removed.
    • Never hop around holding on to furniture; it may slide or fall.
    • Keep the crutches nearby so they are always in reach.
    • Wear low-heeled shoes (like sneakers) that will not slip off.
    • Be careful of ramps or slopes. It is harder to walk with crutches on ramps or slopes.
    • Do not remove any parts of the crutches, including the rubber tips.
    • If they feel uncomfortable on crutches, ask someone to help. For example, someone can carry their books.

    Helpful Hints

    • A bedside toilet may be used.
    • Ask teachers in school to let your child out of class a little early to avoid crowds on the stairs.
    • Keep the "bad" leg up on a stool while sitting.
    • Carry schoolbooks in a backpack to leave both hands free and ask a friend to carry it for you, if possible.
    • Avoid leaning on the underarm pieces.
    • If your child's school is more than two stories tall, ask if your child can have a key to the elevator.
  2. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider:
    • How long will my child need to be on crutches?
    • Can my child bear any weight on his injured leg?
    • What are the limits to my child's activity while he is on crutches?
    • What are the limits on my child's activity once he is off of his crutches?
    • When can my child return to school?
    • When can my child return to gym class? to contact sports? to biking? or to rough play?
    • Will my child need physical therapy?
    • Will this injury affect my child's growth?
  3. When to call your healthcare provider
    • Your child has increasing pain and pain medicine recommended or prescribed by your healthcare provider is not helping.
    • Your child feels numbness or tingling in his arms.
    • If you have any other concerns.

Head Injury / Concussion

Head injury is a broad term that describes injuries to the scalp, skull, brain, and tissue and blood vessels in the child’s head. Some head injuries are also called brain injury, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), depending on the extent of the head trauma. Concussion is the most common type of TBI.

A concussion is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to shake. The shaking can cause the brain not to work normally and can result in serious side effects. If your child hits her head, be aware of the concussion symptoms to look for, which are commonly physical (such as a headache, nausea, or dizziness), sleep-related, difficulty concentrating/remembering, or involve mood disruption.

Initial treatment for a concussion is rest, both mental and physical, which allows the brain time to heal. Every child’s injury and recovery is unique, but with guidance from a doctor, your child can slowly return to school and to play following a concussion.

Burns: Caring for Your Child’s Burn at Home After Discharge From the Hospital

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Coming home from the hospital is a happy time. It means your child is getting better. At home, you will have to take care of your child and help your child’s burn injury heal. This page explains how you can care for your child after coming home from the hospital.

Most families find that it takes some time to get into a routine. Here are some tips:

  • Ask for help from other family members.
  • Include your child's treatment into your regular family life. Do not centre family life on the treatment.
  • At first, some children need more naps, demand more attention, or have nightmares. If this happens, be calm and understanding. These problems will go away with time.
  • Try to set aside a few private minutes for yourself each day.

Follow-up clinic

Your child will have to go to a follow-up clinic. The doctors and nurses will check how your child’s burn is healing. They will also ask how your family is doing now that you are at home.

Write down the date, time, and place of your follow-up visit here:

Caring for your child's healing skin

Here are some tips to help you care for your child's healing skin.

Washing

It is very important to keep the new skin clean. Clean your bathtub as you normally would. Be sure to wash your own hands before caring for your child's skin.

Bathe your child, including the healed skin, in a warm soapy bath or shower once a day. You can use regular soap. Pat the skin dry; do not rub it.

If your child still has open areas of skin, they should not bathe with other people. Clean the tub after the child's bath to protect the rest of your family.

Skin creams

The longer the burn injury took to heal, the more chance there will be scars. You cannot stop scars from forming, but you can help minimize the appearance of burn scars with proper skin care and regular massage with a good skin cream. Be sure to use a cream without perfumes.

Apply the cream and massage firmly and evenly over the areas using your fingertips. Continue until all the cream is absorbed into the skin. This should take about 5 minutes. Many children find this treatment soothing. It usually helps with the itchiness.

Caring for Healing Skin
Applying skin cream with gentle massage helps new skin from a burn injury to heal with less scarring. Massage the cream in gentle circles, pressing just firm enough so that the scar turns white under your fingertips.

Some children find their new skin to be very sensitive to touch. It is very important that you keep touching it. The more the area is touched, the less sensitive it will be.

Itchiness

Healed skin can be itchy. Extra baths and skin cream may help make skin less itchy. Some children may also need to take medicine for a short time to reduce itchiness. Your health care professional will advise you.

Keep your child's nails short and clean to help prevent scratching or infection.

Open skin

If there are small open areas of skin, cover them with some vaseline petroleum jelly and a light gauze dressing after cleaning with soap and water in the bath. If the dressing sticks, you can remove it gently by soaking in the next bath. After the bath, you will need to put on a new dressing with ointment and gauze. If you have any questions, call the burn unit where your child was treated.

Heat, cold, and sunlight

Protect your child's newly healed skin from heat and cold as it can be hyper-sensitive. The skin will also burn easily. Keep your child out of direct sunlight and apply a waterproof sun block with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30.

Your child should also wear light clothing over the burned area. If new skin is exposed to sunlight, it will darken evenly and this colour will be permanent.

In very cold weather, dress your child warmly.

Blisters and sores

Sometimes, healed skin can blister or small sores may appear. This may happen during the first few months whenever the skin is bumped or scratched. This is normal, so try not to discourage usual play and activity. Blisters will heal quickly when treated in the same way as open skin. Over time, the new skin heals and becomes stronger.

Pressure garments 

Pressure garments do not filter out sunlight. Sun block must be worn under the garments, and long-sleeved light clothing over top.
If your child needs pressure garments:
  • Garments must be worn 24 hours a day and taken off only for bathing.
  • Garments do not filter out sunlight. Your child must still use a sun block under the garments.
  • Change the garments after each bath. Wash them in warm soapy water and dry them flat. Do not put pressure garments in the dryer or near a radiator, as these may damage the material.

Activity

Parents often worry about their child's safety after the burn. However, your child can do all the activities they are used to doing, unless your child's doctor, nurse, or physiotherapist has told you something else. If you have questions call the burn unit where your child was treated.

Eating and drinking

Foods High in Protein and Energy
Good nutrition will help your child’s burn heal. However, the return home may cause some children to become fussy about eating. They may have less appetite or even lose a little weight in the first few weeks. This problem does not last and will go away by itself. Serve your child foods that are high in protein and energy. Good examples are meats, eggs, yogurts, cheese, and pasta.

Outings

Getting out and meeting other people is important for your child's emotional health. If your child has visible scarring, some people may react when they first see the scar. This response is normal and will become easier for you, your child, and your family to understand and accept. Some people may ask awkward questions. You may find it helpful to prepare a truthful answer ahead of time.

Return to school

Depending on the extent and visibility of the burn injury, your child may find returning to school difficult. School has a strong influence on a child’s normal behavior and social adjustment. Talk to your burn team to discuss a school re-entry visit to support your child's return to school.

Getting help

Questions will arise as you adjust to your new routines. Here are three ways to find answers:

  • Call the burn unit where your child was treated, or your plastic surgeon. Someone is always available.
  • Bring your questions with you to the clinic. Write them down before you go so you do not forget any questions when you arrive.
  • Contact your family physician for health concerns that are not related to the burn injury.

Write down helpful names and numbers here:

Key points

  • Keep your child’s skin clean and replace gauze dressings.
  • Protect your child’s skin from heat, cold, and sunlight.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions on how to clean and wear pressure garments.
  • Serve your child foods that are high in protein and energy.
  • Your child can do all the activities they did before the injury.
  • Make sure you go back to the hospital for your child’s follow-up appointment.

Caring for Children with Birth Injuries

Parents of children with birth injuries are rarely able to meet the rising costs of special needs care with their own income sources. Caring for a seriously injured child is not easy — it takes significant funds and has been known to cause financial devastation for many families. Legal assistance is available to devastated parents searching for answers and resources. With the help of an experienced birth injury lawyer, your child may gain access to the type of medical care that could make all the difference in his or her future.

The Purpose of Birth Injury Lawsuits

Parents are often hesitant to even consider the possibility of filing a birth injury claim. They may be intimidated by the doctor, or even worried that a lawsuit will be expensive and require time and energy that could be better spent caring for their injured child.

Proving a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or hospital is responsible for your child’s birth injury is not just about highlighting inadequate medical care, it’s also about holding specific medical professionals accountable and getting your family the funds you need to properly care for your child.

While the process of investigating medical malpractice can take time, your family deserves to know the truth. A skilled birth injury attorney can handle the investigation for you and work diligently to uncover evidence that a mistake was made during labor and delivery. If your attorney is successful, you could be awarded significant compensation that will help you afford the best treatments for your child and improve quality of life.

Funding Lifetime Care

While money doesn’t solve the pain caused by physical injury, it can remove some of the stress of raising an injured child by giving parents access to high quality medical care. You may be entitled to receive compensation for all expenses related to your child’s health problems, including surgeries, adaptive living equipment, rehabilitation, physical therapy, speech therapy, special education, home modifications, medication, emergency room visits, in-home care, and more.

With guidance from skilled financial experts, your birth injury attorneys can estimate the expected lifetime costs of caring for your injured child and seek a settlement that will ensure your child is taken care of every day of their life.

Taking Care of Your Child's Cast

A cast holds a broken bone in place while it heals. Casts also help to prevent or decrease muscle contractions and can help limit movement, especially after surgery.

injured girl with cast on wrist PHOTO

The outside of the cast is made from one of two types of casting materials:

  • Plaster – white in color
  • Fiberglass – comes in a variety of colors

Cotton and other synthetic materials are used to line the inside of the cast to make it soft and to provide padding around bony areas, such as the wrist or elbow.

  1. Follow instructions provided by your healthcare provider (doctor or nurse practitioner) It is important that your child follow all of the special instructions given by your healthcare provider to make sure that the broken bone heals well. Some things that your child's healthcare provider might suggest:
    • Keep the cast clean and dry. Do not get it wet in the shower or tub or swimming pool. Ask your doctor how you can buy a protective sleeve if you think your child might be somewhere where his cast might get wet. Check for cracks and breaks in the cast.
    • Check for rough edges. These rough edges can be padded to protect the skin from scratches.
    • Do not scratch the skin under the cast by inserting objects inside the cast – this can cut the skin.
    • If your child complains of itching, use a hairdryer placed on a cool setting to blow air under the cast. Never blow warm or hot air into the cast.
    • Do not put powders or lotions inside the cast.
    • Cover the cast while your child is eating to prevent food spills and crumbs from entering the cast.
    • Prevent small toys or objects from being put inside the cast.
    • Elevate the cast above the level of the heart to decrease swelling.
    • Encourage your child to move his or her fingers or toes to promote circulation.
    • Older children with body casts may need to use a bedpan or urinal in order to go to the bathroom.
    • Tips to keep body casts clean and dry and prevent skin irritation around the genital area include the following:
      • Use a diaper or sanitary napkin around the genital area to prevent leakage or splashing urine.
      • Place toilet paper inside the bedpan to prevent urine from splashing onto the cast or bed.
      • Keep the genital area as clean and dry as possible to prevent skin irritation.
  2. Bathing and Hair Washing
    • Your child may need to have sponge baths until the cast is removed.
    • How to wash your child's hair: Lay your child across a bed a place a bucket on the floor to catch the water as you shampoo. You can also get "no-rinse" shampoo at the drug store.
  3. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider:
    • How long will my child need to wear the cast?
    • What are the limits to my child's activity while he wears the cast?
    • What are the limits on my child's activity once you take off the cast?
    • When can my child return to school?
    • When can my child return to gym class? to contact sports? to biking? or to rough play?
    • Will my child need physical therapy?
    • Will this injury affect my child's growth?
  4. When to call your healthcare provider. Ask your healthcare provider for specific signs and symptoms that should alert you to call them right away. They may include the following:
    • Your child has increasing pain and pain medicine recommended or prescribed by your healthcare provider is not helping.
    • You see a change in the cast; cracking, softening, drainage from the inside.
    • You smell a bad odor coming from the cast.
    • Your child's fingers or toes are cold, blue/gray or swollen.
    • Your child feels numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes.
    • Your child cannot move his/her fingers or toes.
    • The cast is slipping off.
    • There is increased swelling above or below the cast.
    • The cast feels very tight.
    • If you have any other concerns.

Caring for a child with brain injury

Thousands of children are affected by acquired brain injury every year. It is often shortened to 'ABI'. The 'acquired' part means simply that the child wasn't born with their injury – it is the result of an accident or illness that occurred later.

Acquired brain injury is divided into:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): the result of an impact to the head. Examples might be a car accident or a fall.
  • Non-traumatic brain injury: the result of something like meningitis or a brain tumour.

How childhood injuries are different

The human brain carries on developing until we are in our 20s, and some research suggests it goes on for many years after that. So if part of the brain is injured during the earlier stages of its development, a child might not go on to pick up some of the skills they otherwise would have. Some of the effects might not come to the surface until the injured part starts to be used. In the same way you might not know you had twisted your ankle until you tried to walk on it, an injury to the brain might not make itself known until that part of the brain is used.

Children may make a full physical recovery from an accident, but the effects of a brain injury can take weeks, months and sometimes years to show up. It is because these changes and difficulties are hard to spot that ABI is sometimes called 'the hidden disability'.

Symptoms and impact

Each child is unique in the way they respond to a brain injury and there is an enormous range of difficulties children might face, from minor short-term memory lapses to serious, long-term physical and learning disabilities. Some parents talk about a 'personality change' as their child's behaviour alters after the injury, and this can be deeply distressing for parents.

'Severe acquired brain injury' affects a minority of children with acquired brain injury and may mean children permanently lose the ability to walk or talk. Some may have difficulties eating and drinking. But the majority of children with acquired brain are likely to experience some of the more common effects listed below. It is important to remember each child's experience is different. You might notice some effects immediately, while some may only come to the surface weeks, months or even years later:
  • Weakness of limbs
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Tiredness, struggling with concentration – often talked about as 'fatigue' by professionals
  • Changes in behaviour – irritability, behaving impulsively or inappropriately
  • Learning difficulties
  • Problems with memory
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Emotional difficulties such as anxiety, depression
  • Difficulties understanding and using language
  • Difficulties organising and planning
  • Difficulty putting themselves 'in someone else's shoes
  • Wider difficulties that result from all of the above – difficulty keeping up with conversations, carrying out everyday tasks, and coping with school

How is it treated?

The brain is the most sophisticated part of our bodies, and so any injury to it can be very complex. There is no single 'cure' or treatment for acquired brain injury. But there are opportunities for children to get back some of the skills they've lost through different therapies and support. Physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and many other approaches may have a part to play. This on-going process is often called 'rehabilitation'.

Therapy might take place:

  • While a child is in hospital. This is called inpatient rehabilitation.
  • At a specialist centre of some kind. Children might stay at the centre or visit.
  • In the community. Therapists or care staff come to the child's home, school or a local centre.

Expert help

The sensitive nature and complexity of childhood brain injury cases means it is vital to get the right team involved early on. Our specialist brain injury solicitors, case managers and family co-ordinators can give you the best information and support available for the whole family. Just one call to the Brain Injury Group will connect you to a dedicated and coordinated team that will ensure you receive the best advice and representation. Call us on 0800 612 9660 or click here to find a law firm close to you.

What the family can expect

After the initial shock of a child's acquired brain injury, families are left with a great deal of stress. They might also experience feelings of guilt, uncertainty and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

Later on in the healing process, parents and siblings face a distressing time if a child shows changes in their behaviour. Families may feel a sense of loss for the child as they were before the injury. Other children in the family may not fully understand what is happening or may feel left out.

It is extremely important that parents remember to look after themselves and other children in the family at this difficult time and seek help and support if they need it. Evidence suggests a supportive family environment can make a positive difference to a child's recovery. If you are concerned about anyone in your family, ask your GP to help you find appropriate services.

The sheer complexity of the brain means even the experts may not know what the outcome will be. But in all this uncertainty there is also great possibility. The healthcare professionals around you might not be able guarantee a full recovery, but neither can they rule out the dramatic improvements many families have witnessed.

Brain Injury and cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy – a brain injury caused by lack of oxygen at birth – is particularly devastating to familIes, particularly where it has been caused by avoidable mistakes. Sadly, no amount of damages can turn back the clock, but we believe that brain-injured children and their families deserve the best possible treatment, rehabilitation, financial security and consequent chance of future health and happiness.

To help secure this, the Brain Injury Group will put you in touch with an experienced and sensitive personal injury solicitor to assist in your child's claim for compensation

National experts, local needs

As we have a national network of expert lawyers who can help you, and your child, and we will find you the most suitable lawyer for your particular circumstances. All our lawyers have a proven track-record in brain injury cases, and they work for firms who must adhere to ethical standards and a strict code of conduct.

They also understand fully that the process of litigation can seem daunting and scary, so we will explain everything to you in language which you understand. And we can help you find someone local to you who really knows your area and can signpost you to local support services nearby.

A complete offer

It has been proved that a holistic approach in brain injury cases is the most successful and we believe that the same can be said for making a claim. In addition to putting you in touch with some of the best legal experts on medical negligence leading to cerebral palsy, we also offer the help and support of a number of other specialists, so that the family is relieved of some of the pressure at this difficult time.

This includes making sure that claimants and their families receive the very best case management services so that all aspects of treatment, receipt of state aid and on-going care options are explored and monitored, while our lawyers work to achieve the best possible damages settlement for your claim.

Contact us today to talk about your cerebral palsy claim

If you would like to know more about our service you can call us on 0800 612 9660 or send us an email. The Brain Injury Group's knowledgeable legal advisors are on hand to offer initial advice about making a claim for compensation in respect of birth injury which has caused cerebral palsy or any acquired brain injury caused during birth.

Most claims can be funded under a conditional fee agreement and we are happy to discuss funding options at the outset of your claim so that you can proceed with confidence

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