Who Invented Thudguard®? (About the Inventor)
Kelly Forsyth-Gibson is a mother of 3 and was born and lives in the Scottish city of Aberdeen. In 1998, when Kelly's youngest child was 1 and learning to walk, the toddler fell and bumped her head. A search for a lightweight safety hat that was cute and fun for her child to wear was unsuccessful. She continued looking for a protective hat that could reduce the severity of the everyday bumps and bruises that children get when becoming more active. There were none, so she invented her own... Falling over is part of growing up and some accidents can act as an important lesson, such as scraped hands and knees. But the traumatic hospital trip; exposure to the radiation of an X-ray and the worrying 24-hour observation period of a head injury is heart breaking for all the family! Parents take great care not to let their toddlers fall but you can't keep them glued to your hip all day and accidents do happen. At least now there is an option to reduce the harshness of head injury as well as reduce the workload of many Accident & Emergency Departments. Kelly's invention is helping reduce the national child accident statistics, making learning to walk in a world of hard surfaces great fun and a lot safer. (Kelly is also the author of a children's book - see below).
As well as being nominated for various awards for her invention, Kelly is also the author of a children's book titled Jan Otters' Closet.
Kelly sought inspiration from her daughter Ashleigh to get ideas to write a book in the absence of her daughter not being able to find anything suitable in her local book stores. It seemed that all adventure stories were written with boys in mind and Ashleigh wanted a story with the usual girly stuff in it but, to also have the gritty exhilaration of danger and excitement that only boy's books seem to have. The two brought their imagination together to develop some of the most exciting stories for children to be released in the United Kingdom. While developing her own personal dream (the Thudguard® baby safety hat), over ten years, decided that hard work, although very rewarding, could never take the place of the quality time she shared with her daughter. Kelly hopes that this book will encourage her daughter to follow in her footsteps and break through all boundaries of the impossible, hoping to instill in Ashleigh the tenacity to start a project and make it the best she can. Three years of hard work has resulted in something that she is proud to present to the world, leaving her mark for her children and grandchildren to read and enjoy, and proving that day dreams come and go but that great imagination deserves to be immortalized in print. The subjects addressed in the Jan Otters' Closet adventures are lessons for us all and are met with fun and the sensitivity that these life-changing dramas deserve. Kelly and Ashleigh say, "Writing together has been one of the best things to ever happen to us - and it's only the beginning!"
Head Injury Advice - What happens if my toddler does have a head injury?
If only we could bottle kids' marvellous energy. It's better than solar power! Still, their energetic exploration of life often results in bumps and bruises to the head. Fortunately, most of these are not serious. Nevertheless, when we hear the awful thud of a child's head, our breath catches and for a moment... Youngsters seem to be always "banging" their heads on something. It's difficult to know how to respond. There are some general guidelines for when it is serious and when it isn't. Don't feel bad contacting medical professionals. Trust your instincts. You don't want to be calling for every little thing, but you certainly don't want to miss something important.
HEAD INJURY ADVICE
Symptoms for concern:
- Loss of consciousness (however brief)
- Vomiting (even once)
- Sleepiness or difficulty in wakening
- Persistent headache
- Altered vision
- Memory loss of the fall
- Bleeding from ears or nose
Some of these symptoms may be difficult to assess in a small child. Should you have any concern about your child following a head injury then you should seek medical advice. Thudguard® may protect your child's head from bumps and bruises but a significant fall could still result in a head injury. A child who sustains a head injury (whether or not the child is wearing head protection), and has any of the above symptoms, must be seen by a doctor - either your own family doctor or at an Accident & Emergency department.
Early Injury Can Have Long-Term Effects
Although young children with brain injury usually recover their mental abilities quite rapidly, they can have serious problems later. "These kids have incredible learning deficits even when the IQ returns to normal," said Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, a University of Texas neurologist. She noted that 70% of children's brain injuries affect the frontal cortex. Because growth in the brain's frontal regions continues throughout young adulthood, early injury there can damage formation of the protective myelin insulation around neurons. This can impair their ability to control emotions and inhibit inappropriate behavior. These kids have trouble responding to subtle social cues and planning difficult tasks.
How to Identify the Seriousness of a Child's Concussion
All concussions are cause for concern, but not all concussions are the same. Symptoms can include confusion, headache, concentration problems, mood swings, or sleep difficulties. "Concussions are caused by a blow to the head," says Michael Goodman, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of Paediatrics and Neurology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. "They can occur when a child falls and during any sport that can involve a collision of the head with another object - be it a head, a ball, or the ground."
After reading a list like this, it is tempting to try to protect your child from every situation that might result in an injury. It is appropriate to use good judgment in deciding which environments are safe for your child, but it is also important to allow him the opportunity to express himself through physical activity. Sometimes growth means taking risks and appropriate risks are worth taking! Stair gates for infants and toddlers, car seats, seat belts, and helmets for riding a bicycle or roller-blades prevent many serious head injuries. Make sure your child is properly equipped for his activities.
"A conscious effort to protect your child is an unconscious initiative to preserve your peace of mind."
When should my infant wear a Thudguard®?
First stage: Usually the early months when baby is sitting up and/or crawling and especially if there is hard flooring. Thudguard® can be used, (perhaps twice a day) usually after a nap when baby is most alert and wants to explore the ground of a safe allocated room. There should be very little resistance at this age to wearing a Thudguard® if any at all but short periods are best, and give lots of praise. Baby will soon associate wearing a Thudguard® with good exploring fun.
Second stage: It's wonderful! Baby becomes more energetic and starts to pull himself up against the sofa. Unfortunately, if he lets go, he can fall face first. Some time after assisting your baby with learning how to walk (see techniques of learning to walk), he may stop holding on to furniture for support and attempt to cross the floor to another part of the room on his own. This is a very proud and exciting time but you may be tempted to stick to him like glue for fear of falls. Every day, frantic parents rush into hospital after their babies have fallen off a bed, table, or over objects lying around. It happens so quickly! Babies can fall even with the most careful and attentive parents nearby. When babies fall, they usually land head first, since their centers of gravity are in their heads (adults' centres of gravity are in our bottoms). The head hits the floor with a terrible, ripe-melon-like "thud." Thankfully, most of these head injuries are minor. A clear safe area should be created in advance of baby walking with playpen breaks in between. If baby uses the Thudguard® in the first stage, then he should be good-natured enough to wear it now. Thudguard® can be used a few times a day, in short intervals, to allow baby to enjoy his new walking skills.
Third stage: Your toddler although walking, may still be less than sure footed. A harness outdoors can be a great help but be prepared for the time when your toddler will insist that you let go and allow him to walk unaided. Toddlers love to run free and develop their newfound mobility and grass is usually a good soft landing. There will be times when there are concrete, patios, and garden furniture or play park equipment that you may be concerned about but cant avoid. Thudguard® can give great peace of mind in this situation and your toddler will benefit from wearing this cute protective hat as an alternative safety measure.
Why is Thudguard® unique?
In 1997, to make the concept of an infants safety hat work, experts said the following: "The hat would have to be lightweight, comfortable, attractive, protective and available in one size to cover the age group of approximately 7 months to 2+ years as parents would not value having to overspend on different sizes." One of the many reasons that Thudguard® was granted its patent was because of the design eliminating the need for small, medium and large head sizing for a pre determined age group. A child's head grows faster in the first few years than in any other time of life. Thudguard® accommodates for this by stretching, or growing with the child a full 10 centimetres while still giving tested and certified impact protection. Thudguard® is the only expandable head guard in the world that can claim this, making this revolutionary new product truly unique. Thudguard® complies with the Department of Trade & Industry's' Personal Protective Equipment Directive, Category II.
Are there any techniques to assist my baby with when "learning to walk"?
When you think your baby is ready, hold her gently around the ribcage underneath the armpits and "stand" her up. You'll notice that she will make "stepping" movements with her feet automatically. This is in preparation of learning to walk so practice as often as you both want to. If, however, after much practice, your baby seems interested in walking, but just can't get it all together, don't worry. Babies develop in their own time and have been know to walk unaided as early as seven months and as late as 20 months. Reassuringly assist her and enjoy this wonderful time. Hold her hand and help this process along, guide her steps. Show her how to hang on to furniture for support and when she looses her balance, encourage her to bend her knees and fall back on to her bottom. At the beginning of toddlerhood, she will probably walk slowly with her arms held out to the side or up in the air for balance, as if all walking surfaces were tightrope wires, and by the end she will be a two-footed locomotion.
What is Thudguard® made of?
Thudguard® is made of a high Impact Absorption Foam molded from Ultra High Density Foam for superior protection. Thudguard® gives a Pre-Curved, Supreme comfort and flexibility for a more personal fit allowing for additional comfort and energy absorption. Thudguard® helps cushion the forehead, side and back of the head. It is made from ultra lightweight High Density Foam and medium weight, soft-spun poly / lycra. This makes it ideal for stretching and keeping the shape of the helmet allowing it to be very durable and easily kept clean. PLEASE DO NOT USE IF ALLERGIC TO SYNTHETIC MATERIALS. Thudguard® is the only baby head guard that complies with a specially written impact test specification.
What is the difference between Thudguard® and a cycle helmet?
The only similarity between Thudguard® and the traditional cycle helmet is the outlining shape. There have been many different attempts at safety hat design but the most popular has always been the full head protection form. With this in mind, Thudguard® began with this traditional and accepted appearance. Thudguard® is for babies and toddlers who are learning to walk in a world of hard surfaces and protects by acting as a cushion between the baby's head and danger, usually when they fall over. The cycle helmet is hard, heavier and would not be suitable for this. Thudguard® is made from incredibly advanced lightweight foam that gives maximum impact protection around a baby's head in the early years when the fontanelle or soft spot, can be vulnerable. Thudguard® is not a hard helmet and it won't slide around; shifting weight and adding danger like hard, heavy helmets. Thudguard® eliminates the weight and discomfort of leather, plastic and vinyl-covered latex headgear, and all the reasons why children refuse to wear protective headgear.
Is using a Thudguard® being "over protective"?
Quite the opposite! Research has shown that "over protective parents" tend to dread and avoid the "learning to walk" phase as much as possible. By their own admission, "over protective parents" claim that they have literally kept their babies in a bubble and may have involuntarily hindered their children as a result of their paranoia, causing them to become late developers in an attempt to evade the pain of their child falling over. Source: ILA independent questionnaire survey/Yahoo/Health/Parenting Health Centre. Until you have a toddler of your own, other people's stories about how traumatic it was chasing their little wobblers around sound just a tad hysterical. I mean really, how hard can it be to keep up with a tiny person whom any grown-up can outrun in a race? It's when you become the warden of a toddler yourself that you realize speed isn't the issue; it's the length of the race and the unpredictability of the terrain.
Isn't pain a learning curve and bumping your head part of growing up?
If bumping your head could be 100% guaranteed to only result in a small discomfort and nothing more, then yes it could be a useful learning tool. If a baby can learn from pain, then she certainly wouldn't be able to put that knowledge into practice right away, as her body couldn't develop fast enough to do so! Did you learn to ride a bicycle or ice skate without falling a good few times? It takes time and practice to perfect balance and there's no point rushing it. But, you can make it a safer, better experience. If it takes pain to gain knowledge then scraped hands when falling over can be an acceptable form of learning for a child and thankfully it is non-life threatening. This pain will still get the message across to the child that falling over does not feel good. It is a traumatic experience for all the family when a baby is taken to hospital with a head injury. When asked, medical staff said that, "thankfully, most children go home with just a small bruise but people are fraught because of their child's trauma and worry about the effects of their child being exposed to the radiation of the X-ray. Sometimes it's the shock of the wound receiving sutures and having to hold their baby still. There is also the worrying 24-hour observation period, not to mention the family arguing and the accusations of who it was that had failed to catch the child in time in the first place. It very rarely gets more serious than this but sometimes that's enough." Over half a million children under the age of 4 were taken to British Accident & Emergency Hospitals as a result of falls in one year alone.This would suggest that many parents, grandparents and caregivers don't see the learning benefits of their child's head whacking against any hard surface. Source: Dti HASS/LASS. Four percent of deaths in the U.S. result from accidents. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, accidents are the MOST COMMON cause of death in children.
How did we manage before Thudguard® came along?
A questionnaire survey asked parents and grandparents what they did to prevent their offspring from falling over when they were learning to walk in and outdoors. Below are the top 9 answers.
- "Just watch them all the time."
- "The playpen keeps them in one place."
- "They are easier to look after when they are in their walking chair."
- "Put padding like pillows and stuff around the furniture."
- "Let them fall! They won't do it again."
- "Keep them restrained from falling with a harness."
- "Only let them play on grass."
- "Falling is part of growing up."
- "Don't let them out of the buggy."
Some of the above can be brief solutions but sooner or later your child will need to be allowed to develop newfound mobility and Thudguard® may be an excellent alternative to those choices. Most parents, grandparents and caregivers make sure that a safe environment is available where there is a high priority on vigilance. But accidents often happen even in the most careful of situations. Some of the options from our questionnaire above clearly show a need and desire to prevent the possibility of head injury. There is much controversy over the walking chair being dangerous and causing more harm than good and even death. Research thoroughly before deciding to get one. For more information on products and safety and how to "child proof" your house, visit the RoSPA and the Child Accident Prevention Trust websites.
Actually we coped "just fine" before dual circuit anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, cholesterol medications, seat belts and air bags, telephones, antibiotics, Thudguard® hats and a whole host of other features of modern life that were once dismissed as excessive and now we view as essentials. Don't look back - look forward!
Thudguard® is just one more option that we didn't have before, taking the safety straight to the child's head by reducing the risk of head injury even more.
Will Thudguard® encourage me to let my baby take more risks?
If your baby walks across the room unsteadily and looks like he is about to stumble and fall, your instinct will be to catch him regardless if he is wearing head protection or not. After all, you wouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security and let your pre-school child cycle on the road just because he is wearing a cycle helmet! Just like you would teach your child how to safely cycle, ice skate or swim, you will set safe boundaries for your baby to learn how to walk. You may have a lot more peace of mind when your child is wearing a Thudguard® but the fact that you are safety conscience enough to get a Thudguard® in the first place, suggests that your not a parent to take risks.
"Risk Compensation Factor"
We have all heard the argument that forcing drivers to wear seatbelts will lead to reckless driving due to the increased feeling of safety. This old argument is completely ridiculous and not grounded in fact. While there is evidence that the wearing of seatbelts has reduced the number of deaths from road traffic accidents, there is no doubt that they have also significantly reduced the severity of the injuries sustained by individuals involved in such accidents. When a new safety product comes on the market it is common for attention to focus on whether or not this product will actually save lives. This is to miss the point. Thudguard® does not claim to significantly have an effect on very serious head injuries but, as stated, may significantly reduce the number of minor head injuries which occur. This may not only reduce discomfort associated with such injuries among the patients, but also have an impact on the workload of the emergency services with regards to these injuries.
What safety standards does Thudguard® meet?
Thudguard® complies with the Department of Trade & Industry Directive - Personal Protective Equipment (DTI PPE Category II (89/686/EEC).
See information about our impact test below.
Thudguard® complies with SGS Testing (BSEN71 / 2 & 3) for:
- Chemical Test
- Flammability Test
- Antibacterial Test
Thudguard® is the only baby head guard that complies with a specially written impact test specification. For example, we have all seen the television adverts where the crash test dummies in a car are put through rigorous impact testing. Thudguard® is the only one of its kind in the world which has a specially written British Test Specification developed that simulates the smashing of the product against; radiators in the home, anvils to create the round corners of tables and concrete patio flooring and furniture to make sure we have allowed for most little accidents in and out of the home. In 2003 an expert was commissioned to develop a technical specification stating the impact testing requirements that an infant safety hat would have to pass to gain the recognized CE marking and to comply with a known directive. The procedure of gathering the information required was similar to that of the testing criteria of the bicycle helmet. Various standards were cited and a harmonized collaboration of essential criteria needed was developed. The impact levels that were set for existing headgear was modified and applied to Thudguard® to represent the impact levels of protection that babies and toddlers would need when falling over while learning to walk. Thudguard® was independently tested, passed and certified by a leading international test house where various simulated impacts against anvils representing door edges, patio slabs, round corners and pavement curbs etc., where carried out. We have made sure that Thudguard® is made of materials that have been certified and tested because your baby deserves the best.
Thudguard® complies with SGS.
Thudguard® has truly set the standard to perform to.
How do I fit the Thudguard® properly so it won't cover my baby's eyes?
Children have been recorded as starting to walk as early as 7 months old. With this in mind Thudguard® was designed to accommodate a small head size of 40cm circumference but may cover the child’s eyes if not positioned correctly. This is easily put right by resting the hat further back on the head to allow a clear view. The chinstrap will keep it in this position. Keep checking that the hat has not been knocked forward or that the child has not pulled it forward. Always make sure that the child can see where she is going.
My child won't wear hats. How can I get him/her to wear a Thudguard®?
It is best to introduce your baby to Thudguard® at an early age, as it will be more readily accepted. (The acceptance of a Thudguard® will also help promote the wearing of a cycle helmet when that time comes.) If however, you present Thudguard® to an older toddler, there may be some resistance, as most children don’t like to wear hats at the best of times. It is easier to try putting on a Thudguard® to your child when he is preoccupied with playing or just before leaving the house or going out to the garden. Sometimes if its all done fast with excitement, there is no time for the toddler to realize he has had the hat put on! If it doesn’t work first time, don’t let it ruin your child’s fun. After all, it’s more important to develop emotional skills than motor skills. Try again another time with gentle perseverance and praise. It will work eventually.
Is Thudguard® heavy?
Thudguard® is probably the lightest head protector in the world weighing approximately 100 grams making it perfect for a baby developing neck muscles.
Is my child getting too big for a Thudguard®?
A ready reference graph from Paediatrics shows that, the average child’s head, aged between 7 months and 2+ years, measures from approximately 40cm to 50cm circumference. Naturally, this can vary and some children in this age range have been recorded as having up to a 53cm head circumference. As the Thudguard® design is based on the elastic around the front and back panels stretching, some tension may cause closer skin contact leaving a red mark or imprint similar to socks or clothing with elastic waistbands. This can also happen if the child has a lot of hair or due to over heating, (see user instructions in hot weather). These marks have been shown to fade within 5 – 10 minutes but do not resume with Thudguard® if there is noticeable discomfort to the child due to tension of the band.
Can I use my Thudguard® for my next baby?
Yes, as long as there is no obvious damage from a previous impact injury or damage due to storage or misuse of the Thudguard® as this may affect the level of protection performance. This shouldn’t happen, as the materials used in Thudguard® are very resilient. Always refer to your user leaflet or website to refresh on conditions of use.
Do infants fall over a lot
1 million children in the US sustain a head injury each year. 165,000 children will be hospitalized due to a head injury. 1 in 10 of those children hospitalized will suffer moderate to severe impairments.
Source: USA Brain Injury Stats http://www.altelco.net/~jame/tbi/tbistats.htm
Younger children spend more time at home than in any other environment and home is where they are most likely to be the victims of accidents and injuries, especially as the result of falls. Statistics published by the National SAFEKIDS Coalition show that more than 80 % of fall-related injuries among children ages 4 and under occur in the home. Falls can cause many kinds of injuries including abrasions, lacerations and fractures of bones in the arms and legs. But the most serious consequence of falls, and the reason for a large number of urgent calls to emergency rooms and pediatricians' offices, involves injuries to the head as a result of new found mobility in and outdoors.
Among infants under the age of 12 months head injuries are most often associated with falls onto hard surfaces, from furniture, changing tables or counter-tops and with falls down a flight of stairs. Many accidents in which an infant falls down stairs, occur when a baby in a mobile walker inadvertently goes over the top step and tumbles down headfirst.
Because of their increased mobility and restless curiosity, toddlers are more vulnerable to injury than children in any other age group. In addition to falling down stairs, they often fall after climbing onto chairs, counter-tops and household appliances. Even more serious injury may result when a toddler climbs up into an open window and falls out. Improved motor abilities place them at greater risk for falling outdoors. Many injuries occur to children in this age group while they are using playground equipment such as seesaws, swings and slides.
Is my baby's soft spot (fontanelle) really that vulnerable?
No. True, it can make some rare accidents more dangerous (direct penetrating trauma to that spot by protruding or sharp areas), but for the most common falls experienced by all babies, the soft spot cushions and protects.
How is Thudguard® different from other infant safety hats?
Thudguard® is a protected and patented product. Thudguard® has taken nearly 10 years to complete because of the extensive research and development to make it the best and safest infant protective hat possible. Over the years, Thudguard® has been fortunate enough to have had the top safety and medical experts involved with its progress, ensuring babies and toddlers were delivered its promise to protect.
Thudguard® has accomplished the following:
- Recognized safety regulations
- Impact testing to a new British Technical Specification
- Design that gives ventilation whilst still maintaining maximum head coverage for protection
- Ten years research
- Complies with the current standards for:
- Chemical Testing
- Flammability Testing
- Antibacterial Testing
If the chin strap is stretchy, can my child remove the hat?
We battled with the concept of using a "child proof" chin strap but the risk of childhood strangulation from chin strap snagging was more than we cared to risk, therefore we went with a stretchy chin strap that would release on the weight of the average toddler for a quick escape. A determined toddler will remove any hat and surely it's best to have this than run the risk of a forced garment around an infant's throat! A green tab at the release end of the chin strap identifies the area quickly and allows for a faster aided removal of the garment by the parent or caregiver of the child, who should be present at all times. We believe that a baby or toddler should not be forced and made to wear anything that distresses the child. If the Thudguard® does not become acceptable to your child please return for a full refund (see our Terms & Conditions for returns).
IsThudguard suitable for special needs?
We are often asked if Thudguard is suitable for infants with special needs. While we are not medical experts, Thudguard® has been supported, endorsed and recommended by members of the medical profession world-wide. Thudguard® has been recommended for children with special circumstances such as hemophilia, autism, seizures, post cranial surgery, and head banging. We strongly recommend that you take along our product to your health professional and ask for a medical consultation on the use of our product as all situations and circumstances require a professional judgement.
Thudguard® is grateful to fundraiser Heather Shapiro and the CURE GLANZMANN'S FOUNDATION, INC. for giving us a chance to help make a difference.