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Fatal Head Injuries, TBI, From Car Accidents Common In Teens

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recently partnered with State Farm Insurance to investigate serious injuries to teens in motor vehicle accidents. What were the results of their findings? Of the 55,000 car crashes in 2009 and 2010 involving teen drivers and their passengers, almost 1 in 3 teens suffered an acute head injury.

A concussion, a skull fracture or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) were all considered an acute head injury for purposes of the report. According to the Centers for Disease Control, of those who suffer fatal head injuries, car accidents are the major cause among 15- to 19-year-olds.

One of the main problems with head injuries is that full recovery is often impossible, leaving affected teens facing a lifetime of dealing with the side effects of a single car crash. "The brain is the organ that is least able to heal, so prevention is the best medicine," noted the study's lead author, Dr. Dennis R. Durbin of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Based on the study's results, states can do a better job of protecting teen drivers and their passengers by instituting and enforcing strict Graduated Driver's License (GDL) programs. States with GDL programs requiring at least 50 hours of adult-supervised behind-the-wheel driving had lower numbers of fatal teen driver accidents as well as a lower number of head injuries.

GDL programs that also limited the number of passengers allowed in a teen driver's car, mandated seat belt use, prohibited cell phone use and restricted night time driving by young, inexperienced drivers have shown positive results in reducing fatal and serious injuries among teen drivers and their passengers.

Source: Forbes, "Car Crashes Are The Leading Cause Of Fatal Head Trauma Among Teens," Jim Gorzelany, April 2, 2012

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