Tag Archives: safety

Driveway Disasters (Article)

The combination of driveways and your children can be a deadly one. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye while a parent is performing a mundane task like backing their car out of the driveway; disaster can sadly be just feet away. We all know how much kids love playing outside in the driveway. This puts them squarely in a dangerous zone where they can be injured by a moving car. It’s an alarmingly easy mistake to make that happens frequently. So many families have been devastated when their children are injured or killed by the family car.

In the U.S., fifty children are backed over every week. Of these fifty, two are fatally injured, and most victims are between only twelve and twenty three months old; they are just little innocent toddlers who have no awareness of the danger a moving car poses. They just innocently toddle out into the driveway following their parents, right in the way of the moving vehicle. Most accidents occur when drivers cannot see children in their car’s blind spot, the space behind the car that is not visible from the driver’s seat. Since trucks, vans, and SUVS have the largest blind spots, the majority of accidents are attributed to these vehicles. Fortunately, with more awareness, most of these accidents are preventable.

Here are a few easy tips to ensure that your children are kept safe in your driveway.

  • Always walk all the way around your car before backing out of the driveway. These few seconds could save your child’s life.
  • When young children get in or out of the car, hold their hands and guide them to a safe area where the driver can easily see them.
  • When you’re behind the wheel, remember to back up slowly and always pay attention to your mirrors.
  • Consider purchasing a car that is equipped with a back-up camera and alarm, especially when your children are very young.

Hopefully, all these measures will reduce the number of children who are injured where they should be the safest…their own homes. The prevention of such accidents is possible and in our hands. This is a problem that we can fix!

Your comments are welcome at my blog, www.docsmo.com. Until next time.

Smo Notes:


Written collaboratively by Keri Register and Paul Smolen M.D.

The Genius of Parents (Pedcast)

Doc Smo here, your pedcast host. Thank you for tuning into another edition of DocSmo.com, the pediatric podcast dedicated to parents and children. It’s a beautiful day in Charlotte, and that fact has undoubtedly raised my mood. I must say, I’m constantly reminded of what geniuses mothers and fathers are. Just this week, observing parents with their children has reminded me of this fact.


Take a mother who came with her 10 year old this week, for instance. During the talking part of this boy’s checkup, the conversation turned to his bedroom and his bedtime activities. This child’s mother was quick to pipe into the conversation how important sleep was to his brain function… and she is right! Recent research shows that just an hour less sleep each night reduces the intellectual functioning of a school age child by 2 full grades! That’s like a 5th grader functioning on a 3 grade level. This mom hadn’t read this research but instinctively knew this. Amazing. During that same conversation, the mother reiterated why her son could not have a TV in his room or screens of any sort in his bedroom! This lady is on top of the latest research without even reading it. Research shows that, on average, children with screens and TVs in their room do less well in school.


I am also reminded of the mom who chimed in during my conversation with her son about bike helmets, reinforcing my message of how absolutely essential it is to wear a helmet, not just on a bike, but anything that rolls. The child started negotiating…”What about my skateboard, what about my scooter. Do I need to wear my helmet riding these as well”? Mom took over at this point and came out with this statement, “The point is, Johnny, if you fall and hit your head rolling on anything, we want your helmet to break, not your head. You’ll wear the helmet when you ride on anything that rolls or you will lose that toy.” Right on, Mom.

Dad’s aren’t too shabby when it comes to intelligence either. While I was discussing a young boy’s respiratory illness with him and his Dad earlier this week, the young man interrupted me with a comment before I had finished with my thought. Dad was quick to correct his interruption with some wisdom of his own: “Son, you only have one mouth but two ears, which means you should listen twice as much as you talk!”  What wisdom.  We should all remember that one.


And finally, let’s not forget the teaching of social graces that parents are constantly doing. Just because their children are at the doctor’s office doesn’t mean that these genius parents don’t stop demanding that their children learn to talk to and respect older individuals. I can’t tell you how often I hear parents correct their children to address me as sir, look me in the eye when talking to me, prompting their children to answer my questions without the parent’s help, or show gratitude when I show concern for their well being or give them something. Personally, I take comfort when I hear these things. These parents are grooming their children for success, teaching social skills that they will undoubtedly need when they are captains of industry, civic leaders, professionals, or productive, responsible adults.


Parents never cease to amaze me. That’s why I always do my best to listen carefully when they talk. They usually are very insightful and wise about one of their favorite topics: their children. If you enjoyed this pedcast, take a minute to write a review on iTunes or leave a comment on my blog, www.docsmo.com. You are the reason I make these podcasts. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping you get in sync, with your great parental instincts. Until next time.

Seatbelt Marks Indicate Trouble (Article)

Recognizing which children involved in an automobile accident have serious internal injuries can be a very difficult task for both physicians and parents. Some recent information, gathered by the Pediatric Academic Societies, seems to have made that recognition a little easier, however. These investigators have found that children with external marks from seatbelt injuries, also called the “seatbelt sign,” had a much higher probability of internal injures after a car accident. When young auto accident patients enter Emergency Departments (EDs), doctors are increasingly recognizing that bruising on the chest or abdomen from seatbelt trauma often means trouble, even if the child has little or no pain.

What is this “seatbelt sign?” Well, this physical sign is an elongated area of redness with possible bruising and tenderness on the skin caused by pressure from the seat belt during a collision. Although seen in adult accident patients as well, this bruising can be far more painful for small children and adolescents. Investigators surveyed 3,740 pediatric patients from multiple EDs after auto accidents. 16% had the seat-belt sign present while 84% did not. One in ten of the children with external seatbelt marks had serious internal injuries, especially intra-abdominal, regardless of whether they had pain.  Researchers concluded that external marks from a seat-belt are an important sign for parents and doctors to recognize after an auto accident.

This new data indicates that it is important for both physicians and parents to pay close attention to any bruises or areas of swelling on children involved in an auto accident, since these marks may indicate underlying serious injuries. This study also indicated that the seatbelt sign is not the only indication of abdominal injury; changes in a child’s breathing, low blood pressure, and abdominal tenderness were some of the other significant associated factors for detecting intra-abdominal injury. Dr. Angela Ellison, an emergency physician with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reported that children with this seatbelt sign remain at high risk of injury, most notably gastrointestinal injury. Parents and doctors alike need to recognize and act on this important physical sign.

If you found this article interesting, take a moment to leave a comment at my blog, www.docsmo.com. While you are there, feel free to explore the hundreds of pedcasts and articles in the Doc Smo’s vault. Until next time.

Smo Notes:

1. http://www.pediatricnews.com/specialty-focus/injuries/single-article-page/seat-belt-sign-indicates-hidden-abdominal-injury-risk.html

Written collaboratively by norman Spencer and Paul Smolen M.D.

The Truly Amazing Story of Ian (Article)



With the permission of him and his family, I am going to tell you what happened to a patient of mine named Ian. Three years ago on a hot summer day, Ian went to the pool with his brother to go swimming.  They played games, competing and challenging each other physically like brothers do.  During a game of “How far can you go underwater?,” Ian’s brother noticed that Ian stayed underwater too long . Tragically, an 18-year-old lifeguard and an adult neighbor dragged Ian out of the water blue, lifeless and almost dead.  Ian’s life was now in the hands of  others, his  neighbor and a teenage lifeguard.  How quickly life can change!

Unfortunately, all of the pool water that Ian inhaled severely damaged his lungs; doctors just didn’t know whether the damage extended to his brain.  He spent weeks in the pediatric ICU with all the advanced respiratory support the doctors could muster. The most extreme measures were used to keep Ian going.  Things didn’t look good; the medical staff told Ian’s parents that he had just a fifty percent chance of surviving.  While the family prepared for the worst, however, Ian fought back.

A month after entering the hospital, a frail and exhausted Ian went home with fairly good lungs and, fortunately, a great brain and spirit.  His recovery was truly miraculous, a testament to his wonderful medical care, his religious faith, and his remarkably strong strength of character.

Knowing Ian’s story, I was thrilled when his mother called me recently to tell me that Ian has a summer job.  Not only has he managed to make a complete medical recovery against very steep odds, strengthen his bonds with his family, return to school and earn good grades, but now he has a summer job as, of all things, a LIFEGUARD!  Talk about giving back, this guy is AMAZING!  When I spoke to him recently, he told me that he hasn’t saved anyone yet, but he is ready to return the life saving favor to anyone who needs him. I know he will.


If you have comments, log onto my pediatric blog at www.docsmo.com.  Take a few minutes to explore the literally hundreds of articles and posts on the site.  Until next time.


Written by Paul Smolen MD