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Head injury in the early years - be aware

A study in 2016 (Epidemiology of children with head injury: a national overview. L Trethan et al 2016)  showed that of 5,700 UK children with head injuries, aged 0-15, over half were in the 0-5 age group.

This isn’t surprising as at this age children are determined explorers, with little awareness of risk. We know that the most common cause of injury in this age group is falls.

So what does this mean for you, working in Early Years?

The same study showed that while just over half the incidents took place at home, a further 15% took place at nursery or school. 

To help address this need, the Child Brain Injury Trust, a national charity supporting children and families affected by acquired brain injury, have developed a CPD accredited training course specifically for early years practitioners. The training programme is offered to all early years staff right across the UK; all state funded early years nurseries can access this training without charge. (Private nurseries can access the training from £55 per participant).

Why should those working in early years know more about this topic?

Unlike many other organs in the body, the human brain cannot repair itself.  Once any brain cells (neurons) are injured they are gone forever. A child’s brain is not fully formed when they are born, and it will take them up to 25 years to fully mature and develop skills that make us ‘human’.

The brain will have development spurts, and at specific stages we expect that certain abilities will come onstream.

Therefore if a child receives a bump to the head, however mild, there is a possibility that some of those cells waiting to come online may have been damaged.  Because of this ‘sleeper’ effect any injury in early years may not be apparent until the skill or ability is due to come onstream. This is especially so for the skills that form the higher level abilities of ‘executive function’ – problem solving, planning, organising, empathy, time management and so on. Many of these functions do not appear fully until a child is in their early teens; therefore if a child has a head injury in their early years, the effects of any injury may take days, months or even years to show.

Therefore it is important that those practitioners working in early years settings are aware of the impact of “bumps” to the head, and know about the potential impact of life threatening illnesses such us meningitis, encephalitis  etc.

Our online training

By working through the online training, practitioners in early years settings will enable their nursery or day care unit to be recognised as “Head Injury Aware”. This means that the participant will receive a certificate of completion, together with resources for parents about head bumps, incident slips to be given to parents/guardians about any bumps to the head, and sticker for the children.

The Early Years programme is CPD approved and is worth 9 CPD hours in total. While progressing through the course participants will also learn about brain injury through serious illnesses like childhood stroke, encephalitis and hydrocephalus in addition to the more commonly understood causes like falls resulting in a knock to the head.

This special “Head Injury Aware” status will give nurseries, day care, and childminders, something which helps move beyond the accident book, and take the information provided to parents and carers to the next level.

All the training is done online, and participants can work through it at a time and pace that suits them and their team. Participants will have eight weeks to complete the self-study course. Spaces are limited to keep the “class” small, with online support available from our team. Note that further classes will become available in the coming months. You will also be able to access an online forum, where you can chat to other members of your class.

Find out more about this initiative and see availabilty in the study groups, here.

About the author

Louise has worked at the charity since 2008, and brought with her over 20 years’ experience in the delivery of Learning Interventions. In the last 6 years Louise has personally delivered ABI training to over 6,000 professionals across many sectors, including Education, Healthcare and more recently Youth Offending, and is often asked to speak at Conferences and Learning Events. Over the last five years Louise has been instrumental in highlighting the issues of childhood acquired brain injury (ABI) and the links with offending behaviours. She is founder member of the Criminal Justice and Acquired Brain Injury Interest Group (CJABIIG), and won the Stephen MacAleese Award for Inspiration by an Individual in the field of ABI.

Tel: 01869 341075

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