Category Archives: Children’s Health

New car seat inspection starting January 2014

On a windy Saturday in January, Safe Kids Central Wyoming held the first free car seat inspection at the new location – White’s Mountain Motors on East Yellowstone Highway. Moving the car seat inspections to White’s Mountain Motors is in alignment with our General Motors sponsor. General Motors has been a national sponsor for Safe Kids USA for over 16 years. The Buckle Up program has grown into the most comprehensive child passenger safety program in the nation. Measurement of the program is lives saved and injuries prevented. Since this program was started the number of deaths has been cut by a third, and the number of injuries have been cut in half today.
Even with the wind howling outside the service area, 10 vehicles showed up for the volunteer child passenger safety technicians to inspect 12 car seats to ensure they were installed correctly. Three car seats/booster seats were changed out to provide the correct equipment to the children that attended the event.

Child Passenger Safety technicians checking a car seat for a parent and child.
Child Passenger Safety technicians checking a car seat for a parent and child.

Safe Kids was very fortunate to have White’s Mountain Motors donate the removal of the old Safe Kids van graphics, along with purchasing and installing the new graphics. The graphics are the new Safe Kids Worldwide logos and decons.

The new van graphics displayed in front of White’s Mountain Motors on Sat. Jan. 11. Nice bright colors, shapes and new logos are apparent.
The new van graphics displayed in front of White’s Mountain Motors on Sat. Jan. 11. Nice bright colors, shapes and new logos are apparent.

Free Car Seat Inspections

Safe kids holds free car seat inspections on the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at Whites Mountain Motors, 2400 E Yellowstone Highway in Casper.

Flu season is here: H1N1 nothing to sneeze at, but not out of the ordinary

Swine Influenca (H1N1) Virus

Wyoming Medical Center has seen a few cases of the dreaded H1N1 influenza virus this month, but it’s nothing to get excited about, said Dr. Mark Dowell, medical director of infection control at WMC.

H1N1 (also called swine flu) got a lot of media attention in 2009 because it hadn’t been seen in United States for many years and, as a result, the population was more susceptible. Young adults, who typically fend off most flus, fell ill. It caused more than 100 deaths in non-immunized pregnant women. Ever since, H1N1 has been one of three strains included in the influenza vaccine.

“H1N1 is just one of the many influenza viruses that are circulating right now internationally. It is no different really than most of the other strains of flu that go around every year,” said Dowell, who is also the Natrona County Health Officer. “It just is a little more aggressive in some people and it has hung around longer year to year than other strains. And it really doesn’t do too well in pregnant women.

“But it’s not a superstrain of virus. It’s another strain of virus.”

Flu cases at Wyoming Medical Center are still fairly sporadic, but they signal the start of Natrona County’s flu season. Cases will likely peak in 4 to 6 weeks, before tapering off again, Dowell said. If the season follows the typical pattern, cases will straggle in through March or April.

Here’s what you need to know to get ready for the worst season of the year – flu season:

Is it a cold or the flu?

Influenza, including H1N1, will make you sicker than you normally get. It sometimes presents with a cough but more usually with a 100-degree-or-so fever, headache  and tremendous muscle and joint pain. A stuffed-up nose is typically not a sign of the flu.

“You will often say, ‘This is as sick as I’ve ever been in my life,’” Dowell said. “I have had influenza as a teenager, and believe me, you will not forget it.”

Is it serious?

It can be. About 36,000 people a year die in this country from influenza. It is typically most dangerous to the very young, the very old or people with weakened immune systems – people with heart or kidney disease or cancers, for example. Complications can include flu pneumonia or developing bacterial pneumonia on top of your flu.

But, in most healthy people, the flu can be fought off at home.

“We don’t want to put patients with influenza in the hospital if we can help it because it tends to spread by droplet. The majority of people never get hospitalized for influenza. The treatment works if you start it early when you recognize the disease, otherwise it does nothing,” Dowell said. “The complications that occur usually mainly occur in those that are least healthy.”

How can I prevent it?

Get the vaccination, plain and simple. The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu shot, particularly people who are very young or very old or who may suffer from other chronic illnesses. Pregnant women should also get it since they have two lives at stake.

H1N1 can still seem like a big, bad monster because it’s been around for just a few years. “And since, a lot of times, only 30 to 50 percent of the population gets immunized , there is a whole population that is still susceptible. Because of that, it spreads,” Dowell said.

In the elderly, the flu shot may protect 50 percent of the time. But 50 percent is 50 percent, Dowell said. If you’re not willing to get the shot, be diligent about washing your hands and using hand gel. Use common sense. Flu is spread through fluids, so avoid fluids secreted by infected people.

But I’ve heard the shot will give me the flu?

The flu shot uses a dead virus. It cannot infect you. Symptoms you might experience afterward are caused by your immune response and only about 7 percent of people even get a fever from the shot, Dowell said.  The nasal vaccine does contain a live virus, so only choose this option if you have a fairly good immune system.

“Here at Wyoming Medical Center, we have more than 99 percent of our employees immunized against flu. We do not want our employees bringing influenza into our sick patients,” Dowell said. “We have done this for several years. We are very proud of it, and our employees just go for it.”

Ok, I’m convinced. But do I still have time to get the shot and be protected?

Yes. Get it now.

The shot lasts four to six months but is strongest after two to four weeks. So, you will likely be protected when the Natrona County season peaks in the next month or so.

As a general rule, people in Wyoming should not get their flu shots any earlier than October or November, despite the signs in supermarket parking lots. Our flu seasons typically come later than other parts of the country. Talk to your health provider.

 

Dr. Mark Dowell is an infectious diseases physician at Wyoming Medical Center and the Natrona County Health Officer.

Dr. Mark Dowell is an infectious disease specialist with Wyoming Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases, 1450 E. A St. He is also the Natrona County health officer and is board certified in infectious disease and internal medicine. Reach his office at (307) 234-8700.

‘Giving smart: keep your kids safe this holiday season

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Nearly 500 kids go to the emergency room every day because of toy-related injuries. Follow these toy safety tips from safekids.org to keep your child’s Christmas break healthy and happy.

1. Check for choking hazards: If you have young children, make sure the new toy is age appropriate and has no small  parts. This is particularly important with board games, which should be kept away from curious toddlers.

2. Mind the batteries: More than 2,800 kids are treated each year for swallowing lithium button batteries. As our electronic devices get smaller, there are more and more of them, in singing greeting cards, watches, thermometers, calculators, key fobs and many other household items. They are also found in many Christmas toys or ornaments. Seal compartments with duct tape to prevent young fingers from prying batteries out. If you suspect a child has swallowed a
battery, go to the hospital immediately. Do not try to induce vomiting.

3. Add a helmet: If you are giving a riding toy—bike, skateboard or scooter for example—wrap the appropriate helmet and other safety gear, and give it as part of  the gift.

4. Research the recalls: Check the latest recalls for unsafe toys at recalls.gov. You can also sign up for Safe Kids’ recall email alerts at safekids.org.

Save the Date!

Safe Kids of Central Wyoming presents the Kohl’s Winter Safety Event on Monday, Jan. 20. We will give away ski helmets and offer fittings, give out passes to Hogadon’s Learn to Ski or Snowboard event and provide winter safety lessons. Visit our website or call (307) 577-7904 for more information.

Happy Halloween (and a few reminders from Safe Kids Wyoming)

halloween1Tonight’s the night your little witches and wizards have been waiting for: pillowcases full of candy, scaring smaller ghosts and goblins and, if all goes according to plan, sugar-induced stomach aches.

Safe Kids of Central Wyoming recommends trick-or-treating between the hours of 6 to 8 p.m.

“We continually encourage community members to be safety conscience, but ask that they pay even more attention on Halloween,” said Pam Evert, Wyoming Medical Center Safe Communities program director.

“The biggest dangers faced on Halloween are injuries from tripping and falling and pedestrian/car accidents. Unfortunately, many children forget safety tips out of shear excitement while traversing from house-to-house trick-or-treating. It is important for parents to set the example by staying on main pathways and crossing at corners.”

 To ensure a safe Halloween, Safe Kids Wyoming recommends the following rules.

 For children:

* Go only to well-lit houses. Do not enter houses, but stay on porches.

* Travel in small groups accompanied by an adult.

* Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards. Cross streets at the corners, use crosswalks and do not cross between parked cars.  Stop at all corners, and gather in a group before crossing.

* Know your phone number in case of emergencies.

* Use costume knives and swords that are flexible. Wear clothing that is bright, reflective and flame retardant. Only wear masks that do not obstruct your vision. Avoid wearing long, baggy or loose costumes or oversized shoes (to prevent tripping).

 For parents and adults:

* Supervise the outing for children under age 12. Establish a curfew for older children.

* Clear porches, lawns and sidewalks for trick-or-treaters and place jack-o-lanterns away from doorways and landings. Do not leave lit pumpkins unattended.

*  Inspect all candy for safety before children eat it.

* Drive slowly. Watch for children in the street and on medians.

* Have children exit cars on the curbside, not on the traffic side.

*  When decorating, remember that dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters. It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. 

 

Come say ‘Boo!’31-top-40-best-free-halloween-greeting-cards-templates-e-card-and-treats-vector-graphics

Stop by the Safe Kids of Central Wyoming booth tonight at Eastridge Mall.

Trick-or-treating for kids ages 2 to 12 will be from 5 to 7 p.m. while family-friendly events will be from 4 to 7 p.m. in Center Court.

Wyoming Medical Center is the lead agency for Safe Kids of Central Wyoming.

Casper Children Join Safe Kids of Central Wyoming and FedEx on International Walk to School Day

3x7 WMC SKids Walk to school
Click to enlarge

Safe Kids of Central Wyoming will join Casper area school children and FedEx volunteers on Wednesday, October 9 to raise awareness about pedestrian safety on International Walk to School Day. More than 250,000 children across the United States will participate in the annual event to learn safe walking skills and to encourage the creation of safe walking environments.

“On International Walk to School Day, parents and caregivers teach and model safe pedestrian behavior,” said Pam Evert, Safe Communities/Safe Kids of Central Wyoming.  “Our children learn by mimicking what they see.  By walking with them on International Walk to School Day, we can show children how to walk safely.
In 1999, Safe Kids Worldwide and program sponsor FedEx created the Safe Kids Walk This Way Program in the United States to teach safe behaviors to motorists and child pedestrians and create safer, more walkable communities.  Safe Kids and FedEx address the issue through research, physical improvements to school zones, and education and awareness campaigns throughout the year, such as International Walk to School Day.
Safe Kids volunteers, Fed Ex employees, Casper Fire/EMS & local law enforcement will be at Willard Elementary, 129 N. Elk, Casper and Evansville Elementary, 452 Texas Street, Evansville from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. and then again from 3:15 – 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9th. The volunteers will teach school children and their parents how to walk safely and recognized pedestrian dangers.
International Walk to School Day is a great opportunity for students to learn how to remain injury-free as they walk to and from school,” adds Pam Evert, Safe Communities/Safe Kids of Central Wyoming“Walking to school is also an excellent way for children to be outside and get exercise.”
Motorists are encouraged to be extra vigilant in and around school zones especially during the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up.
For more information about International Safe Walk to School Day, contact Pam Evert, Safe Communities/Safe Kids of Central Wyoming, 307-577-7904.

Concussion Monday: What I did right, what I did wrong when my son fell off the monkey bars

Sam4
Six-year-old Sammy before learning about the dangers of the monkey bars. (Unfortunately, this is still how he drinks out of most water fountains.)

Over the last five Mondays, we have posted concussion material geared toward athletes and anatomy as part of our participation in #ConcussionMonday on social media. This post is geared to parents. Specifically, how should parents and caregivers respond when they suspect concussion in children?

I’ll be the guinea pig for this post.

I recently recounted the story of my son’s concussion to Dr. Elizabeth Clark, a child and adult neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associates. I then asked her what I did right and what I did wrong. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

The setup

My husband and I were at a much-deserved dinner with friends. (At least we thought it was much deserved.)  Sammy, then 6 years old, was at a neighbor’s house who happened to live next to a city park.

Two or three bites into dinner, our phones started ringing. Sammy had been crossing the monkey bars when he missed the last bar, our neighbor told us. Sammy fell and smacked his forehead against the top rung of the ladder leading onto the apparatus.

First off, Dr. Clark, what’s the word on monkey bars? Are they safe for young children, with or without supervision?

Dr. Clark: The American Academy of Pediatrics has no official opinion whether children should be allowed on the monkey bars and we tend to make our recommendations using the official guidelines.

So, basically, I ask parents to use their best judgments. If the child is small in comparison to the height of the monkey bars, it’s probably best for the child not to be on them. It is helpful to have a caregiver with them at all times, but even that won’t prevent all accidents.

To dial or not to dial

On the phone, my neighbor told me that Sammy was groggy and talking with slurred, confused speech. I told the neighbor we were on our way, and we left our forks on our plates. It took us between 10 to 15 minutes to drive across town.

So, was leaving dinner the right call, or should we have asked the babysitter to call 911 and planned to meet Sammy at the emergency room?

Dr. Clark: Anytime a child has a knock to the head and neurological symptoms such as slurred speech, grogginess, vomiting, confusion, it is best that the child be transported to the emergency room via ambulance. That way they can be evaluated and monitored and the ER doctors can tell parents what to look for.

Take two aspirin and call in the morning!

Looking back, I think I didn’t ask the sitter to call an ambulance because I figured there’s not a lot to be done for a concussion. I figured I’d take Sammy home, give him some Tylenol and an ice pack, and monitor him through the night.

But by the time we reached Sammy, he had vomited and was still lethargic. My husband and I decided to drive him to Wyoming Medical Center ourselves. We figured it would take less time than calling an ambulance.

Dr. Clark, can parents monitor children at home if they suspect concussion, or did we make the right call to drive Sammy to the ER?

Dr. Clark: Some parents who are in the medical profession who know what they are looking for may feel more comfortable keeping their child at home, however these people are few and far between. That’s why we say, “Go to the ER.”

The most serious outcome of concussion is bleeding in the head, but that is rare. Still, it’s deadly and should be checked by a professional. So taking Sammy to ER was appropriate.

However, ambulances are almost always quicker in emergency situations than driving a patient to the ER yourself.

The sheepish conclusion

Sammy
Sammy, 11, is now a healthy, sometimes happy, middle schooler. Lest you think his fashion sense is an unforeseen side effect of his bump on the head, he was clipping ties to his t-shirts long before falling from the monkey bars.

Sammy did indeed have a concussion. He repeatedly threw up the liquid ER staff needed him to keep down for his CT scan. When he did finally manage, doctors informed us he wasn’t bleeding. He’s now 11 and is a healthy, sometimes happy pre-teenager.  (God help me.)

All that’s left from his concussion experience is a reminder to stay within catching distance when small children are swinging like monkeys from bars, and a funny family story that involves, strangely enough, farm animals.

As Sammy lay in the ER bed – staring wide-eyed at the ceiling, both arms splayed outward as nurses hooked up IVs and took his vitals – a doctor asked me the standard questions about his medical history: Ever have this disease or that? Adverse reactions to any medication? Was he allergic to anything?

No, no and no.

Just then, Sammy sat straight up in his hospital bed: Mom! What did you just say?

I said you aren’t allergic to anything.

But I am allergic to something, Mom. I’m allergic to sheep.

And with that, Sammy fell instantly flat on his back.

The doctor looked at me with a raised eyebrow. I shook my head. Sammy’s only exposure to sheep had been at a petting zoo a few years earlier. The sheep sucked pellets from Sammy’s tiny hands and Sammy sucked sheep slobber from the same hands seconds later. He certainly wasn’t allergic to sheep that day. My husband and I still figure it was the concussion talking.

#ConcussionMonday is an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.  Read our past posts below:

Week 5: What athletes should know

Week 4: How does a concussion happen?

Week 3: What parents should know 

Week 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments

Week 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Kristy verticleKristy Bleizeffer is a writer and public relations rep for Wyoming Medical Center and editor of The Pulse. Previously, she worked at Wyoming newspapers for 12 years, most recently as features editor of the Casper Star-Tribune. She enjoys working in her garden until July when she falls woefully behind and vows to do better next year. She is mother to a son and step-son. Tell her your health stories by emailing kbleizeffer@wyomingmedicalcenter.org or calling (307) 577-2556.

Students commit to not text and drive

The students of high schools throughout Natrona County really listened to the no-texting-and-driving message.

We started the 2013 “It Can Wait Drive 4 Pledges” week off with Natrona County High School’s mostly ninth- and 10th-graders during their 90-minute PE class early Monday morning.  I was really impressed at how attentive the students were as we showed the 34-minute AT&T “From One Second to the Next” video.  With over 100 students in the auditorium at each session, you could not hear a pin drop.  It is a very moving and impactful video to stress to viewers the importance of paying attention to their driving and putting their phones away or letting a passenger text or call for the driver.

The students really liked the hands-on activities.  Driving the simulator while texting or just driving showed how impaired they really were.  Many of these students just received their learner’s permits or were soon to get them.  These new drivers are the exact age group we wanted to reach as they are the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.

In talking to the students during the activities I was encouraged by their responses to “are you going to text and drive?”  They always said no and stated they learned a lot today.  One student said he used to do it but quit after his friend got in an accident and broke his legs.

The total attendance at NC’s event was 334.

Natrona County High School students listen to the opening before the video was played.
Natrona County High School students listen to the opening before the video was played.

Tuesday we presented at Roosevelt High School for 100 students and teachers.  Again the audience was fully engaged in the video.  One of the teachers said that any time you can get this group of students quietly watching a video is totally awesome.  After the video the students all enjoyed the hands on activities.  One of the students was asked how she liked the assembly and she said, “It was great – I loved all of it.”

Another teacher pointed out that the visual means everything for this young generation.  They understood how texting can really impact someone’s life because of the video.

Many were able to try the driving simulator while texting and they all really got into that activity.  It is so rewarding to see what an impact we can do to bring the message to the students.

Roosevelt High School students watch one student try out the driving simulator as he tries to not hit a deer or a pedestrian while texting and driving.
Roosevelt High School students watch one student try out the driving simulator as he tries to not hit a deer or a pedestrian while texting and driving.

We traveled a bit out of the way to make a stop at Midwest School, which serves the small communities of Midwest and Edgerton.  We wanted to make it special for them being so far out of town, so we pulled the crashed texting car up there for them to check out.  Over 100 students attended.  The younger group was not quite into driving yet but we still got the message to them. The students actually listened and did not text and drive so it took longer for them to make a mistake or crash in the driving simulator.

This group of volunteers traveled to Midwest School to present for the students and  local law enforcement and Fire/EMS.
This group of volunteers traveled to Midwest School to present for the students and local law enforcement and Fire/EMS.
One of the hands-on activities at Midwest School included using concussion goggles and a shape-matching game.
One of the hands-on activities at Midwest School included using concussion goggles and a shape-matching game.

We finished our texting events at Kelly Walsh High School during lunch periods on Thursday with 712 students attending.  They enjoyed the hands-on activities as well.  One student named Jonas came up to me and said, “Ma’am, thank you very much for everything today. This program and other ones are going to save lives.”   This was a great comment coming from a student.

The Kelly Walsh High School pledge banner had the most signatures pledging not to text and drive.  All four schools had their own banner to sign and we left it in the offices for them to display as a reminder to the students about texting and driving.
The Kelly Walsh High School pledge banner had the most signatures pledging not to text and drive. All four schools had their own banner to sign and we left it in the offices for them to display as a reminder to the students about texting and driving.
We delivered the crashed texting car along with signs telling the story of the crash to the corner of Second and Conwell streets near Wyoming Medical Center for the public and employees to view.
We delivered the crashed texting car along with signs telling the story of the crash to the corner of Second and Conwell streets near Wyoming Medical Center for the public and employees to view.

The video contained more messages than just the no texting and driving so many students related in different ways to it.  Rachel Hauglid from PARTY (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth) heard from a friend that her daughter attended one session at Natrona County High School and came home that night and raved about the event and all she learned.  It was nice to hear the feedback so quickly.  One of our partners, Jake Black from Casper Fire EMS, said that after the last presentation that he felt Safe Communities took the texting event to a higher level this year and was very happy with the turnout.

Thanks to AT&T, American National Insurance, Casper Fire/EMS, Casper Police Department, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, PARTY, Wyoming Department of Transportation, Evansville Fire/EMS, Midwest Police Department and Fire/EMS and WMC Safe Communities for the great collaboration for these events!

I am not a clinical person.  I am not a teacher.  It is very rewarding to see that you can make an impact on people by what message you deliver.  We truly touched lives.

Concussion Monday: What athletes should know

For our fifth installment in #ConcussionMonday, Dr. David Wheeler, a neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associates, talks about the dangers of concussion in football and other sports. It’s not just the hard, helmet-smacking hits that players need to worry about. Any sudden deceleration of the head can cause the brain to slosh around inside the skull. This can cause minor bruising that can have lasting effects. Watch the video to learn about multiple traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and other precautions of which young athletes should be aware.

#ConcussionMonday is an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.  Read our past posts below: Week 4: How does a concussion happen? Week 3: What parents should know  Week 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments Week 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Car seat inspection leads to national recall

As one of our six certified child passenger safety technicians, Taryn Gallinger ensures babies are safely strapped in before leaving Wyoming Medical Center. But an inspection she did this summer likely helped protect babies far beyond our walls.

In May, an expecting mother walked into The Birth Place looking for help with her infant car seat – something just didn’t seem right. Gallinger, a certified nursing assistant, followed the woman to her car and, sure enough, the seat’s back end wouldn’t click into the base. No matter how many times Gallinger tried, she couldn’t get it to latch.

“That told me that something was definitely wrong,” Gallinger said. If there were an accident, the front latch would hold, but the back end would likely swing forward, slamming into the front seats.

Gallinger warned the woman not to transport her baby in that seat. She offered the woman another seat and suggested she take the defective one to Casper Fire Station No. 3. Perhaps they could help return it and ensure it would not be resold to someone else, Gallinger told her.

A couple of weeks later, Gallinger ran into the woman again at the Birth Place, this time with her new baby. The young mother thanked Gallinger for her help.

It wasn’t just her car seat that was defective, the mother said, but the entire design.   All such car seats were removed from the store’s shelves, and the defect led to a national recall of that model.

Gallinger hopes the story will motivate others to get their car seats inspected.

“That inspection not only protected patients here,” Gallinger said, “but it protected everyone who would have went out and purchased that particular car seat.”

WATCH THIS: Taryn Gallinger presents an infant car seat safety checklist in the below video.  Remember: When in doubt, call Wyoming Medical Center at 577-7904 for a professional car seat inspection.

Car seat safety guide, birth to age 13

Child Passenger Safety Week started Sunday and continues through Sept. 21. It’s a good time to remind readers that car seats are not just for newborns. Crashes are the most prevalent cause of death for children younger than 12.

Wyoming Medical Center ‘s Safe Kids of Central Wyoming program offers these guidelines for choosing a seat for your children:

* Birth – 12 Months
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

* 1 – 3 Years
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

* 4 – 7 Years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

* 8 – 12 Years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

* National Seat Check Saturday is 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 21 at White’s Mountain Motors. Come for a free child car seat safety inspection and to check that yours is installed correctly.

* WMC’s Safe Kids of Central Wyoming will install and inspect child safety seats free of charge.  We will also provide infant car seats to parents who cannot afford one. To arrange a check, call Pam Evert, Safe Kids & Safe Communities program director at (307) 577-7904.

Concussion Monday: What parents should know about concussion

By Dr. Ania Pollack, neurosurgeon at Wyoming Medical Center

The opening of a new school year means not only books and classrooms but also an explosion of athletic activities. The types soccerof contact and collision sports which are available to kids at much younger ages are growing in school sponsored events. There should be no surprise that we are also seeing a significant increase of head concussions affecting our children.

In fact, it has been estimated that about 700,000 concussions per year occur in children ages 1 to 19. Concussions have doubled for children ages 8 to 13 and have increased more than 300 percent for 14- to 19-year-old.  These statistics are for the concussions that are confirmed by hospitals and do not include at least 40 percent more concussions that are not reported.

Beginning sports in the elementary schools exposes our kids to 6 or 7 more years of potential injuries leading to the scary statistic of 68 percent of children having at least one concussion by the time they enter high school.

The most important part of concussion awareness is the recognition of its symptoms. These include:

— severe headache

— difficulty concentrating or suffering from loss of memory, slow decision making, a total lack of focus, or the inability to recall normal routine

— dizziness, vertigo, difficulty with balance

— unequal size of pupils

— nausea and vomiting

— blurred vision

— irritability and emotional outbursts

— slurred speech

— disrupted sleep patterns

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, especially in light of a recent trauma, seek immediate medical attention. Why?  Because the brain is the most important organ in your body and it can be severely affected by concussions that may cause acute and/or long term injuries.

The most talked about injuries are subdural and epidural hematomas or any other type of brain bleeding that unfortunately has taken lives of young athletes every year. It can be detected by a head CT and appropriately treated by a neurosurgeon.

Other injuries are more subtle, but still rob our children of normal brain function such as attention, memory, multitasking and may lead to behavioral and personality changes. Unfortunately concussions are a part of our everyday life, but dealing with them promptly and correctly will help minimize potential short and long term problems.

Dr. Ania Pollack is a locums neurosurgeon at Wyoming Brain and Spine Associates, 1020 E. Second St., in Casper. Email  wyomingbrainandspine@wyomingmedicalcenter.org or make an appointment by calling (307) 266-2222.

This article was originally published in the For Your Kids’ Health e-newsletter, a project by Wyoming Medical Center and Natrona County School District. Find more articles and health tips for children of all ages by clicking on For Your Kids’ Health from The Pulse’s homepage.