How long does traumatic brain injury (TBI) affect children?

While there is no exact time period that marks when a child is completely healed or, at least, unaffected by traumatic brain injury (TBI), a new study suggests that the injury can affect some children for years.  Whether suffering from a mild blow to the head or a concussion, children can be affected by the condition over 2 years after the time of injury.  Though some traumatic brain injuries are permanent, lasting not 2 years, but a lifetime, or even resulting in death, those that seem to be more moderate have recently been found to affect the brain activity of victims for longer than expected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, TBI is the most common cause of fatality and disabilty in children and teenagers.  When brain injuries do not result in fatality or permanent disability, they still can linger for up to 24 months or more, according to a new study released from researchers at UCLA.  After analyzing 28 articles on traumatic brain injury between 1988 and 2007, lead author of the journal Neuropsychology and post-doctoral fellow at UCLA Talin Babikian found that child and adolescent victims of TBI fall further behind their peers over time than previously expected by physicians. 

Children in the study were sorted by their levels on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which measures a brain injury sufferer's eye/pupil response, verbal communication, and motor response to determine the serverity of the injury.  Including children from all three levels of the scale--mild, moderate, or severe--Babikian found that moderate and severe sufferers of TBI experienced similar impairment after a time period of 24 months after injury.  While those with moderate injuries recovered somewhat in terms of attention and intellectual functioning, the neurocognictive affects of TBI persisted throughout the two years experienced after injury.  The children who did suffer from severe traumatic brain injury displayed significant IQ, attention, verbal memory, and processing speed impairment.  Even children with mild TBI experienced problems in cognitive development, although they tended to heal more over time than the other children.

Important to the study is the fact that the age of a child at the time of injury affects how the child will heal.  Since younger children require more development than older children, a younger child may experience the same injury as an older one but endure longer and more difficult recovery processes. 

While the results of the UCLA study are discouraging, even heartbreaking, hope exists for some child victims of traumatic brain injury to heal and develop normally.  As an experienced pediatric TBI lawyer, Chris Keane helps families recover the compensation they need for the medical treatment of their child and ensures that each child is connected with the right physician and proper care.  If you have questions regarding TBI or child injuries in general, feel free to contact the Keane Law Firm.  We will consult with you for free and ensure that you receive the resources you require. 1-888-592-KIDS.

Link:  "Traumatic Brain Injury Haunts Children For Years" article
Christopher Keane
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