Although conventional wisdom is that young children are highly resilient when it comes to recovering from serious injuries, recent research suggests that this may not be the case where traumatic brain injuries are concerned.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines traumatic brain injury, or TBI, as a bump or blow to the head that disrupts normal brain functioning, with consequences that range from a mild concussion to severe, long-term disability. Researchers estimate that at least one in 30 children will experience a TBI by age 16, often as a result of car accidents, sports injuries and falls.
TBI Linked to Behavior Problems and Lower IQ
In two recent studies, Australian researchers spent several years tracking children who had experienced TBIs at a young age in order to study the long-term effects of brain injuries on small children. They discovered that the children who had experienced moderate to severe TBIs continued to show signs of impaired cognitive function, lower IQ and behavioral problems years after their injuries.
While many of the children studied continued to make significant strides toward recovery for several years after their initial injuries, it typically took about three years for the injured children to get back to where they had been before their injuries. While the children continued to make encouraging progress well beyond that point, many were unable to close the developmental gap created during the brain’s initial recovery period.
Developing Brains Are More Vulnerable to Injury
In the past, many people believed that babies and young children were protected from brain injuries because their relatively soft skulls are less likely to be fractured, and because their developing brains were thought to be able to heal themselves quickly. Instead, researchers say these traits actually increase the chances of long-terms problems for children who experience TBIs at a young age. Children under the age of 4 are particularly at risk of traumatic brain injury, according to the CDC.
For information about seeking financial compensation for the medical and rehabilitative costs associated with TBI, contact a personal injury lawyer with experience representing clients with traumatic brain injuries.