The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injuries on Children
By Sean Lally, Staff Writer
Many people throughout the United States suffer from the horrible consequences of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013, 2.5 million people went to emergency rooms after having incurred a TBI. And in general, 30 percent of all injury-related fatalities are the result of a brain injury.
When it comes to children, the problem only gets worse. Aside from adults who are over 65, very young children (under four years) and teenagers (between 15 and 19) make up the vast majority of TBI victims. Nearly 500,000 children visit the emergency room every year due to a TBI, according to a 2010 CDC report submitted to Congress. That same report noted that the problem is worsening. Between 2002 and 2006, the number of children under 14 visiting the ER for TBIs rose by 62 percent. And a 2016 study published by the National Institute of Health reported that 37,200 children suffer every year from a severe TBI.
So why are children so susceptible to this type of injury? One reason might be that many children play sports, which can cause a fair number of head injuries. To illustrate, in 2012, nearly 330,000 children were brought to the emergency department for a sports-injury involving a TBI. And according to the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, between 2001 and 2012, the number of sports-related TBIs in children doubled in the US. The same study found that, out of all the sports-induced TBIs (adults included), 70 percent were 19 years-old or under.
TBIs can sometimes go unnoticed in children. A child might fall during a soccer game, experience some disorientation and then shake it off. Sometimes TBI symptoms don’t manifest until years after the incident. Thus, it is important to leave no rock unturned when it comes to your son or daughter’s well-being, especially when sports are involved.
There are three types of TBI: mild, moderate and severe. These types refer only to the immediate consequences of the contusion. The long-term effects are harder to discern right away. Sometimes a seemingly harmless blow to the head can lead to severe symptoms. And symptoms vary greatly. One TBI victim might suffer from a decrease in self-esteem, while another might experience memory loss. Yet another victim might have trouble producing speech. So it’s important to seek out medical attention when you have an inkling something is amiss in your child’s behavior.
The Long Journey Following a TBI
As observed on BrainLine.org, children can sometimes have difficulty coping after sustaining a TBI. To make matters worse, TBIs can often lead to psychological effects that make it even more difficult to deal with the life-changes following this kind of injury. Some children might not want to accept the truth of their situation: that their life will never be the same again. Others might not understand what’s happening to them. And still other children will spend a long time mourning the loss of their motor skills.
The long and troubled journey toward recovery partially depends on the devotion of the parent. If your child has sustained a brain injury, it’s imperative to know that you (and the whole family) are essential for your child’s recovery, as suggested by BrainLine.org. Thus, it’s important to highlight every success. It’s also important to maintain patience and to understand that though family is central to recovery, there are times when a child would rather be alone. And of course, this situation is difficult for everyone involved, so it’s a good idea to reach out to support networks.
It might be apparent that the costs associated with this type of injury can be astronomical. As observed on ThornburyLaw.com, victims (or families of victims) might end up spending over $1 million over the course of a life-time. This is partially due to the fact that TBI victims are sometimes kept from making a living. Sometimes these losses are compensable.
If your child has sustained a TBI at no fault of his or her own, it might be a good idea to reach out to a lawyer who is conscious of the intricacies of brain injuries – particularly as they occur in children. It can be very helpful to have someone nearby who understands the law, so that you can focus on rehabilitation and not a personal injury case.