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Traumatic Brain Injury in Children

Home » Traumatic Brain Injury in Children
January 12, 2018
Edward Smith


Children with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of death and disability in children. In addition, the effects of traumatic brain injury are different in children. Let’s look at TBI in children, its causes, and its effects on the developing brain.

Incidence of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children

Nearly one million children annually are seen in emergency rooms for traumatic brain injury. About 2,685 children die as a result of blows to the head.

Causes of Brain Injury in Children

The causes of brain injury in children are due to many situations that vary according to age. The most common are:

  • Falls: This is the reason for TBI in approximately 53 percent of all cases. It is more common in smaller children, including infants and toddlers.
  • Physical abuse: This is seen in about 25 percent of cases. It includes shaken baby syndrome. However, it is seen mainly in the 5 through 14-year-old range.
  • Velocity-related accidents: This category includes bicycle and car accidents and sports injuries. These are most common in grade-schoolers as well as those in secondary school. However, the number of small children injured in velocity-related accidents is substantial.
  • Playground-related TBI: From 2001 to 2013, playground injuries accounted for 21,000 cases of TBI. Despite better design and inspection of playground equipment, the number of TBIs in playgrounds has grown over time. The most cited were monkey bars, swings, and play gyms. This is true of public playgrounds and those found in childcare situations. In the latter, adequate supervision is essential to keep children safe.

Ways That Traumatic Brain Injury Differs in Children

The damage to the brain caused by TBI is thought to be handled differently by the brain in children. A child’s brain is still developing and can adapt to environmental changes. While this ability to adapt, also called neuroplasticity, is seen in adult brains, the child’s brain seems more adept. Neuroplasticity is central to much cognitive rehabilitation as attempts are made to help the brain choose a new path. It reroutes the thought processes around the area of injury.

In one way, TBI in a child takes a greater toll. In TBI, previously learned knowledge does not disappear. The amount of prior knowledge in young children is meager compared to older children and adults. Since learning after the TBI uses prior knowledge to build upon, TBI can take a bigger toll on children.

Late Recognition of TBI in Children

The effects of a traumatic brain injury are difficult to assess in a child. The damage may not show up until the child is older. If, for instance, the TBI caused damage to the cognitive ability to think in the abstract, this might not be noticed until the child has reached that level of development. As such, the damage may be mishandled and believed to result from a learning disability unrelated to an earlier TBI.

What Can Be Done to Help TBI-Afflicted Children Learn

Schools must become adept at identifying the children who have suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past. This is easier to do if the parents provide medical information. However, in many instances, this is not available. To help children with a previous TBI, schools must be capable of shifting how the children are taught, catering to their developmental needs.

Related Articles by Sacramento Brain Injury Attorney Ed Smith:

Sacramento Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento brain injury lawyer. Traumatic brain injury in children may require years of therapy to help the child recover. This can take a financial toll on the family’s well-being. If the TBI was the fault of another or the design and oversight of playground equipment, the family may receive just compensation. Contact our experienced injury lawyers at (916) 921-6400 in the Sacramento area or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly legal advice. You can reach me online if that is easier for you.

I’ve helped many residents of Northern California and Sacramento since 1982 recover compensation from wrongful deaths, vehicular accidents, and other catastrophic injuries.

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