Child injuries can have detrimental effects on the growth and development of children. Common causes of preventable childhood injuries vary by age, and include; burns, falls, motor vehicle and bicycle accidents, pedestrian-related crashes, suffocation, drowning, and ingestion of non-food items, which could lead to poisoning, infections, or chocking. Most of the injuries associated with children under five years can be prevented by childproofing the house and their playgrounds, engaging children in discussions about safety, and using age-appropriate restraints like car seats and additional wheels on their bicycles. Preventable injuries can lead to serious morbidities that may affect a child’s growth and development. Pediatric nurses are essential in promoting the safety and well-being of children, managing preventable childhood injuries, and examining developmental milestones based on children’s age.
Preventable Childhood Injury and Age Group
The identified preventable childhood injury common among under-five children is fall-related injuries. Falls are one of the global public health concerns affecting children below five years. Approximately 646,000 fatal falls occur annually, making falls the second most common cause of injury-related deaths after traffic accidents (WHO, 2018). According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of preventable or non-fatal injuries among children aged between 0 to 19 years. The cause and nature of falls differ depending on the child’s age. Approximately, 8,000 children are admitted to emergency rooms in the United States due to fall-related injuries, which adds up to about 2.8 million children annually (CDC, 2019). A large percentage of unintentional falls occur in or around the home and can pose a serious burden to the injured child and the family members in terms of the pain experienced during the fall and the financial costs associated with treating serious injuries.
Children under five years have a higher likelihood of getting injuries from falls than older children. In a study that examined the emergency care for children, the researchers observed that falls were the most common injuries among children up to one year as the number of falls among this age group was 60.9%, 36.1% among those aged zero to one, and 50.2% among those aged between two to five years (Brito et al., 2018). Children under five years are considered a high-risk population because of their innate curiosity about the things within their surroundings, limited coordination of their gross and fine motor skills, and increasing level of independence as they continue to grow. The physical structures of home environments favor the occurrence of falls among under-five children due to the presence of stairs, slippery floors, furniture that has not been secured in place, and other factors. Between 0 to five years, children gradually come across potential risks for injuries while developing the cognitive abilities linked to the adequate evaluation of danger and risky situations (Sleet, 2018). The growth and developmental factors linked to this age group place under-five children at an increased risk of preventive injuries.
Role of Paediatric Nurse
Pediatric nurses are part of the public healthcare professionals involved in managing health issues in children aged five years and below. In terms of promoting safety and caring for children, pediatric nurses are responsible for conducting primary caregiving roles that involve managing injuries and reducing the risks of infections on the injured site, researching and utilizing evidence-based approaches in their practice, and conducting patient education on injury prevention. Pediatric nurses integrate their professional roles in nursing care with interpersonal skills that assist them in connecting with under-five children and parents at a personal level, which assists them in providing high-quality patient-centered care to their patients (Erickson & Davies, 2017). As caregivers, pediatric nurses provide preventive, curative, and rehabilitative care to children by caring for the child’s injury, comforting them, and preventing the occurrence of an additional injury during care provision. Pediatric nurses also focus on providing patient care in a more humanistic and less authoritative manner that promotes the development of injury prevention skills in children. Pediatric nurses explain to young children what they should not do through simple instructions and educate parents on how they can influence their children to develop safety precautions while playing, which reduces the reoccurrence of falls and injuries (Santos et al., 2019). Pediatric nurses play a critical role in the development of under-five children and in managing fall injuries among other healthcare issues.
When managing children under five, pediatric nurses also provide clear, accurate, and understandable information to parents and caregivers about approaches that can be taken to prevent the occurrence of fall-related injuries at home. Pediatric nurses spread awareness to family members about the items in their homes that are commonly associated with childhood injuries based on researched evidence and approaches that can be used to safeguard the house. Fall injuries associated with home furnishing and fixtures have been reported to be higher among children aged 0 to 4 years (Ali et al., 2019). Creating awareness by informing parents about the high rates of fall injuries linked to home furnishing and the serious injuries that could result from such incidents promotes a significant reduction in fall injuries. Educating parents by spreading awareness about falls and their causes among children, the risk for long-term rehabilitation linked to serious injuries, and the pain associated with the treatment process equips parents with knowledge on fall-based injury prevention (Carlsson, Dykes, Jansson, & Bramhagen, 2016). The role of pediatric nurses in empowering parents through child-care education significantly reduces the risks of these incidents and promotes the safety of children.
Pediatric nurses are also involved in preventing falls in pediatric units. Some of the approaches used to prevent falls in pediatric units include; removing obstacles on passages, using a fall-risk assessment tool to examine fall risks for patients, and maintaining surveillance of the pediatric units, and ensuring that surfaces are cleaned to eliminate the risk of slipping on fluids like urine and vomit. Fall-risk assessment tools have been proven effective in reducing pediatric patient falls in clinic settings (Benning & Webb, 2019). Pediatric nurses also assign suitable beds to children that have bed rails to reduce the risks of falls, offer non-skid footwear to children, and educate caregivers to avoid ambulating sick children who have been placed on sedatives. These care practices promote the safety of under-five patients in clinical settings (Fujita et al., 2013; Chroma, 2016). By preventing falls in pediatric units, nurses reduce the risk of additional injuries while promoting effective recovery of admitted patients.
Importance of Developmental Milestones and Age
Understanding developmental milestones and age is essential among healthcare providers, parents, and care providers as it offers them important clues on whether the child has attained their developmental goals based on their age. Significant developmental milestones characterize the period between 0 and 5 years. According to the CDC, some of the important milestones for children include sucking on the thumb as a calming technique and making coos sounds at 2 months, smiling, copying facial expressions and movements at 4 months, playing with others at 6 months, and using simple gestures like waving goodbye at one year (CDC, 2020). From one year to five years, children progressively develop their gross and fine motor skills, which promotes their coordination and increases their speed during movement (Darling-Churchill & Lippman, 2016). Understanding the developmental milestones of children is essential in watching out for abnormalities and delays in development.
Developmental milestones are important in the continuous evaluation of children and managing them after fall injuries. Fall injuries can leave a child with physical or mental health problems that might affect their growth and development throughout their lives. Mental health problems are often associated with falls that lead to head injuries and can lead to poor development of certain parts of the brain that are involved in important functions, such as movement and coordination or cognitive skills (Vlasblom et al., 2019). Even in cases whereby the effects of the injuries are not serious, treating fall injuries for prolonged periods can lead to huge financial impacts on the family (Rumhi et al., 2020). Assessing a child’s development before and after the occurrence of an injury can help parents and healthcare practitioners to detect unusual development patterns and delayed milestones.
Family-centered care for under-five children is based on understanding the family’s role in acting as the child’s support system and source of strength and incorporating parents, guardians, or other family members in the care provision of children and prevention of injuries. In managing preventable childhood injuries, pediatric nurses should utilize family-centered care approaches in ensuring that fall prevention approaches measures taken in clinical settings are also applied at home. Some of the common themes entailed in family-centered care for under-five children include incorporating injury prevention education and care into the comprehensive child health and developmental assessment conducted during clinic visits and involving child healthcare givers in the evaluation of policies and plans of actions for child injury prevention at the national level. In caring for under-five children in family-centered facilities, teaching family members simple first-aid practices can help them learn how to manage simple injuries in their homes. Additionally, other approaches applied in family-centered care include; applying evidence-based approaches in preventing and controlling childhood injuries, raising public awareness on preventable injuries, and conducting training programs on injury prevention in schools and communities (Sleet, 2018). Family-centered care is an approach for managing pediatric patients.
Fall injuries can have serious effects on the growth and development of children. Falls among children under five can lead to physical and mental health problems that might require prolonged and painful treatment methods, which can also affect the financial stability of the family. Parents should work with pediatric nurses in understanding and implementing fall prevention practices to reduce the risks of fall-related injuries among under-five children. Pediatric nurses are skilled in offering the best care for fall injuries among under-five children and educating parents on preventive techniques that can be applied at home to reduce the occurrence of these injuries.
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