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Recess game leads to Dallas boy’s near-fatal brain injury

Sometimes evidence of a serious brain injury is not readily apparent. When it is, medical response time is critical. The difference between life and death can be minutes for brain trauma victims.

Children were out at recess at Merriman Park Elementary School in Dallas. The school year was near its end and a group of kids were playing touch football. While the game is meant to minimize full physical contact, accidents happen. That Tuesday, a collision between students nearly ended one fourth grader’s life.

A teacher witnessed two boys slam into one another. Both children fell to the ground. One student suffered a bruised knee. The other boy was unresponsive. The quick-thinking teacher phoned 911, as other instructor’s called the 10-year-old’s father.

The injury victim’s father arrived in time to accompany paramedics and his unconscious son to Children’s Medical Center.

Doctors discovered the child suffered a skull fracture with bleeding and swelling that was pushing against the brain stem. The boy’s head had been hit hard by his playmate’s knee. Surgery was performed to reduce pressure on the brain. .

The boy regained consciousness several hours later to the sound of cheers. Doctors credit the teacher’s quick acknowledgement of a traumatic brain injury for saving the child. Medical officials said a delay of 10 minutes might have cost the boy his life.

More than 560,000 children are hospitalized each year for catastrophic brain injuries. Physicians advise parents, teachers and coaches to stay alert for not-so-obvious signs of trauma, if a child suffers a head injury. Loss of consciousness is not automatic. Behavioral changes and other symptoms can signal a deeper problem.

Debate surrounds the responsibilities of schools and athletic programs for head traumas experienced by students and sports participants. Education about brain injuries allows adults to respond quickly and correctly when an accident occurs.

The prevalence of sport’s related injuries has been highlighted in many news stories throughout the nation, recently. Even our blog covered the tragic story of a Hawkins flag football player who died on-the-field from brain injuries he endured playing a non-contact form of football during the last month. Clearly, injuries such as these are becoming more common and it’s time that schools and sport’s clubs reevaluate their standards of play to prevent further tragedies from occurring.

Source:, “Fast Action Saved Dallas Boy After Head Injury,” Karen Borta, June 5, 2012

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