A Parent’s Guide to Child Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to the Brain Injury Association, about 62,000 children under the age of 19 require hospitalization to treat a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Falls are the leading cause of TBIs in children; more than half of TBIs among ages 0-14 occur because of falls. Teens and young adults have the highest rate of vehicle-related TBIs as well as a high rate of sports-related injuries.
TBIs impact children differently than adults and parents should know that even with similar symptoms, the effects of TBIs usually are more severe for kids. Because the brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-20s or even early 30s, impairment can take years to become noticeable, which can lead to an increase in physical and mental challenges later on. Also, young children may be experiencing symptoms but unable to describe them, which can leave parents to question what action is necessary.
One of the most important facts for parents to be aware of is that TBIs require treatment from many different directions. If there is any doubt in the mind of a parent or teacher in regards to a child, they should immediately seek medical help. Treatment does not stop there—children who experience TBIs don’t just go to the hospital and get cured. They will need support from their parents, teachers, counselors, and other professionals to make sure their care is appropriate for every situation.
Teachers and school administrators need to provide assistance throughout the recovery process. Students who sustain a TBI often have difficulty retaining information, remembering what they learned, and take longer to get homework done. The child’s parents and teachers must evaluate the student’s new needs so they can understand what kinds of accommodations will help a child succeed, and where they will need additional help. These accommodations can include additional time to complete tests and assignments, extra details on instructions, and a reduced workload. However, parents should also realize that a brain injury does not mean students should get a “free pass” to not complete work or succeed—students who sustain a brain injury are capable of learning but may need to work closely with teachers and administration.
Unfortunately, TBIs are not entirely preventable for any age group. Yet, parents can follow standard safety practices to decrease the risk. Parents of young children should make sure they are supervising their kids around potential hazards at home and at outside activities like sports games and playgrounds. In the car, seatbelts should always be buckled and guidelines for the appropriate kind of car seat need to be adhered to. Helmets should be worn for bike rides. Parents should also make sure that houses are “baby-proofed” for younger children to protect from sharp edges or hard surfaces.
Feinberg Catastrophic Services has a caring team of professionals who are trained to deal with traumatic brain injuries. Educational Consulting is a service that we provide to assist children and their families with the challenges they face after being diagnosed with a TBI. Our team will support the entire family as they find the proper care needed following a car accident.