TBI in children is especially dangerous given their developmental needs. Here are the signs, symptoms, and the support needed for children who have suffered from a brain injury.
The impact of a traumatic brain injury differs in children and adults. The major reason for this is that a child's brain is not fully developed. It is more vulnerable to the severe consequences of an injury and can also take longer to recover.
Further, injury to specific parts of the brain may hinder its natural course of a child’s development. Irreparable damage can inhibit natural cognitive or behavioral functions. However, these effects of TBI in children are not discovered until much later in the child's life.
Certain cognitive functions, for instance, are not a part of the child's regular functions at a younger age (when the brain is at a developmental level). A brain injury during childhood may limit an individual's normal brain function.
What Are the Statistics?
The neuropsychological effects, in particular, are worse for children sustaining brain injuries. Further, studies have found that general intellectual functioning and processing speed have declined over a period of time. Learning disabilities or behavioral abnormalities of an adult can be traced back to brain injuries they suffered as a child.
The wrong approach can damage their learning process and scar them for life. Proper education and awareness of brain injuries will ensure that children receive the care and patience needed to tackle such injuries.
The Brain Injury Association of America lists the following statistics for the incidence of brain injury in children:
- An average of 1,300 children sustain brain injuries from child abuse every year.
- Each year, over 62,000 children require hospitalization due to brain injuries. Further, an average of 564,000 children visit emergency wards of hospitals for brain injuries.
- Among the ages 0-19, the age group 0-4 has a higher risk of brain injury. Falls are typically the leading cause of brain injury for children of this age.
Symptoms of TBI in Children
The damage caused by brain injury in children is often 'invisible' until much later. A mild bumping of the head may be a a harmless accident. However, an ignored concussion can have serious long-term consequences.
Spotting the symptoms of damage can thus prevent the irreparable damage caused by the development of TBI in children:
- Swollen bump or bruise
- Frequent headaches and dizziness
- Impaired movement and balance
- Nausea and vomiting
- Auditory dysfunction such as difficulty in hearing, vertigo, hypersensitivity to sounds, tinnitus, etc.
- Visual dysfunction such as changes in visual perception, double visions, sensitivity to light, etc.
- Loss of taste, smell or touch
Symptoms of cognitive difficulties, though difficult to notice, are also crucial signifiers of prolonged brain damage. A difficulty with sustaining attention is one of the major symptoms of traumatic brain injury in children.
Selective or sustained attention focused on a particular task or engagement is indicative of a reduced attention span. Deficits in memory can also occur in some cases. Reduced short-term memory, for instance, can be seen in the learning abilities of the child.
Behavioral Changes of Children with TBI
Children may also exhibit key behavioral changes such as:
- Agitation and irritability
- Apathy, withdrawal or depression
- Extreme mood swings
- Changes in sleep patterns
Infant Brain Damage and Injuries
TBI in children that occurs before, during or immediately after birth is particularly dangerous. The number of learning and cognitive disabilities are accompanied by lifetime treatment and therapy.
Expenses will include several medical tests and scans. Expensive MRIs and CT scans checks for brain hemorrhage and skull fracture. Another necessary test is an EEG to evaluate the proper operation of neural pathways.
Brain injuries in infants and newborns are often caused by shaken baby syndrome. There may be no apparent external signs of injury, yet some behavioral symptoms can indicate brain damage:
- Changes in eating or nursing habits
- Persistent crying with no consolation
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Unsteady walking
- Loss of interest in favorite toys/activities
Support and Care
TBI in children makes it difficult for them to move forward.
The ability of children to cope with their injuries and circumstances depend on the support system available to them. As loved ones or parents of a child suffering brain damage, you may be faced with the challenge of a slow journey towards recovery.
During this recovery and rehabilitation phase, the following tips may guide you towards supporting your child:
- Recovery: Motivate and encourage the child to achieve small successes. However, maintain realistic goals. Avoid putting pressure on the child to perform by setting high goals. Encourage and restore your child's sense of self-worth.
- Appearance: Children may also experience difficulty adjusting to their physical appearance. Depending on the type of brain injury and its treatment, some children may have to temporarily or permanently live with some physical changes such as loss of hair, stitches, scars, etc. Help your child feel at ease regarding their appearance. If they are uncomfortable discussing their appearance, minimize the attention placed on appearance.
- Cognition: The effects of a child’s brain injury can include impaired cognition. Reduced memory, language, problem-solving skills and awareness of their own actions can make children act in ways that may have dangerous consequences. This means that the child may require a higher degree of supervision and safety. However, this includes restoring the child's sense of responsibility within a safe space.
What to Do If Your Child Is Injured
If your child has suffered a brain injury due to another person's negligence or malicious actions, you can file a lawsuit with a lawyer against the responsible party. This step can restore some of your financial burdens. The defendant must compensate losses such as medical expenses, lose wages (for parents), hospitalization, rehabilitation and therapy.
A reputable and experienced injury lawyer can assist you in understanding the legal options available to you. Our Orange County brain injury attorneys are highly empathetic and understand the trauma caused to a family when TBI in children occurs.
During such a difficult time, we can provide much-needed legal expertise and guidance. Consult an Orange County brain injury attorney to ensure you receive compensation to the full extent of your child's injuries.