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What an injured brain does to a child

Photo of Harlan Thompson

Most of us are aware of the most telltale symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) an adult suffers after an accident. It’s not surprising to think that a child with a developing brain will probably suffer the same symptoms. However, according to the Brain Injury Association of America, many children’s brain injuries often go undetected because the symptoms may be confused with a normal part of the child’s development. This blog post will discuss what to watch for when a child has suffered a head injury that may affect their brain.

The severity of the problem

First, let’s talk about how serious brain injuries really are in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBI is the leading cause of death or serious disabilities among children in America.

Did you know:

  • Each year across the U.S., more than 60,000 children under the age of 19 suffer TBI in motor vehicle accidents, falls from heights and blows to the head? Many are the result of sports injuries due to improper technique or insufficient protective headgear.
  • More than 550,000 children with head injuries are seen by emergency roomdoctors?
  • More than 37,000 are admitted for longer-term medical treatment in hospitals across the country?
  • Nearly 2,700 children under 15 die as a direct result of a head injury every year.
  • Nearly 1,300 children in the United States suffer severe brain injury due to physical abuse every year.

Recovery from a brain injury is different for children

It is important to remember that children are not little adults. The functional impact of cognitive impairment and the emotional impairments will be different. While professionals are treating the child’s symptoms over several months or even years, the child’s brain continues to develop. Medical science once treated children’s brain injuries based on the idea that treatment would move along more quickly, because of “plasticity” of the developing tissue. We now know that is not at all the case and the brain injury will actually impact the child’s developing brain in more harmful, permanent ways. While the immediate symptoms may disappear, as the child grows toward maturity, there may be cognitive “deficits” that become increasingly evident.

The most common impairments that become evident with adolescence includes:

  • Inability to process information
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired ability to apply reasoning skills

Concussions: The most common types of brain injuries

Despite what we hear from sports announcers, there is really no such thing as a “minor” concussion. In children, every bump to the head must be considered potential for a concussion. When a child exhibits symptoms after a blow to the head, parents often make the child rest for a while until the child appears to feel better. But symptoms of a concussion go beyond whooziness.

Parents should watch for:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache, sensitivity to bright light
  • Excessive crying, cannot console the child
  • Irritable behavior, restless

Call a doctor. Then call a legal professional.

If your child suffered a head injury in an accident in New York, don’t assume that everything is okay, just because the symptoms have abated. Get him or her to a doctor for a thorough check up.

If the accident was the result of negligence on the part of another driver or party, you may have a case for seeking financial damages on your child’s behalf for long-term medical care, pain and suffering and other related damages needed over a lifetime.

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