From childhood play such as playground activities or falling out of a tree to a dramatic event such as a motor vehicle collision or a sports injury, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can produce devastating results. Depending on the events leading up to the injury and the child’s history of head trauma, the TBI can result in numerous severe symptoms and life-changing conditions.
Medical experts categorize head injuries in three ways:
- Concussion: In general, a concussion can lead to cognitive issues for a brief period of time. Cognition might be impacted for a few minutes up to a few hours. The impact increases in severity, however, as additional concussions are experienced.
- Contusion: Whether from a direct blow to the head or the whiplash-like movement of the brain inside the cranium during a motor vehicle accident, the brain can suffer bruising and swelling inside the skull.
- Fracture: If the impact is severe enough, an individual’s skull might fracture from the impact. A skull fracture can lead to serious consequences in both the structure and function of the brain.
What symptoms can children face?
TBI symptoms cover a wide range that depends on myriad factors such as the force of the blow and repeated head trauma. The symptoms typically fall into three categories:
- Cognitive: In some individuals, the TBI can result in certain levels of cognitive impairment. This impairment can include memory loss, difficulty making decisions and inability to follow a conversation. Tied to this, an individual could suffer sensory deficiencies such as blurred vision or a ringing in the ears.
- Emotional: Various levels of brain trauma can result in changes to an individual’s emotional responses to stimuli. The injured child might struggle with anxiety or depression following a TBI.
- Behavioral: After a TBI, friends and family members might notice a change in the injured individual’s personality or behaviors. These can be characterized by sudden changes in mood, aggressive reactions to common interactions or even trouble sleeping.
Teens are at greater risk for brain injuries primarily due to their intense activity level. Head injuries are more common during the spring and summer months when children and young adults are more likely to be outside engaging in activities such as inline skating, bicycling or skateboarding. Additionally, contact sports such as football, soccer and hockey can lead to a higher risk of concussion.
While it is impossible for parents to protect their children from every possible risk, they should be aware of the symptoms of a brain injury and act swiftly to get a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan.