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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in children is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In fact, head injuries account for over 80% of all pediatric injuries.
Pediatric brain injuries result in more than $1 billion in hospital charges annually. The most dangerous age groups, statistically, are children from 0 – 4 years-old, and children from 15 – 19 years-old.
The most common causes of pediatric TBI are as follows:
- Car Accidents
- Sports and Recreational Activities
- Child Abuse
While the acute symptoms of pediatric TBI are similar to the acute symptoms of adult TBI, unfortunately, pediatric TBI can result in significant long-term functional problems. It is important that children’s brains are not thought of as miniature adult brains. It has long been thought that brain injuries to children were not as serious because their brains could essentially rewire themselves to overcome any brain damage. Long term studies have shown that this neuroplasticity theory is not accurate.
Studies have also shown that following a pediatric TBI, children go through an immediate phase of recovery, but then they typically experience a decline and then a Neurocognitive Stall that results in symptoms plateauing, as opposed to improving.
It is critical that pediatricians recognize the long-term consequences involved in pediatric TBI, so children can be monitored at each stage of their neuro-cognitive development in order to determine if they are falling behind in any particular area of development.