A child’s recovery after traumatic brain injury takes time because a child’s brain is still developing. Physical, cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral effects can change as the brain matures. Therapies can help the child relearn skills and acquire compensatory strategies, but there may be developmental delays due to damage to the brain. It is important for parents and therapists to monitor children’s recovery by tracking signs and symptoms over time. School is the arena where the long-term effects of a child’s brain injury are most likely to be evident with changes in learning and behavior.
FAQs – Children – Parents, siblings, educators, and caregivers ask questions about traumatic brain injury and concussion in children and adolescents. Articles explain how an injury affects children and adolescents at home and in school. The immediate and long term effects of a traumatic injury to the child’s developing brain are described. Questions about changes in learning, thinking, cognition, behavior, emotions, personality, social skills, speech, language, and communication are answered.
Changes in a child’s communication skills after traumatic brain injury often are unnoticed and undiagnosed. As long as the child is speaking, reading and writing, parents and educators often assume that communication has not been affected by a head trauma. This articles answers questions about how a brain injury can affect speech, language and communication in children. It alerts parents and educators for signs and symptoms at home and in the classroom.
A mild brain injury, often called a concussion, is the most common brain injury in sports. Children and youth are injured every day at school on the playground, in physical education and in team sports. Everyone at school can help by learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion or mild brain injury. This includes parents, teachers, school nurses, coaches, physicians, friends, and classmates. They can provide support at school, in the classroom, on the playing field to help the student recover and avoid another concussion.
Assessment after traumatic brain injury is not restricted to professionals in hospitals and rehabilitation. Parents know their child before and after a traumatic brain injury better than anyone. Assessment is a method to help parents describe the effects of the brain injury on their child, communicate effectively with medical staff, and discuss educational needs of their child at school. Think of it as putting together a verbal snapshot of your child. Ask yourself, “What are the most important things for this person to know about my child?”
Children with traumatic brain injury may need special help and support at school to learn in the classroom. The needs of students with TBI change over time so educating a student with a brain injury is complex and challenging. Parents can be effective educational advocates by learning about state and federal laws on special education including the category for traumatic brain injury. Resources for free information on educating students with brain injury and special education laws are identified.
A child’s behavior may change after the brain is injured. Common changes in behavior after a traumatic brain injury include mood swings, withdrawal, emotional lability, temper outbursts, impulsivity, irritability and poor impulse control. These behavior changes can make it difficult for the child to pay attention and learn in the classroom. The child may have fights with friends. Managing these behaviors can be stressful for parents and teachers. By understanding the connection between the behavior and the brain injury, parents and teachers can use strategeis to help children be more productive at home and in school.
Does a brain injury affect children differently than adults? Yes, unlike the adult, a child’s brain is still developing right up through adolescence. An injury to the brain interrupts this development. A traumatic brain injury is different than a birth disorder or chronic illness. The age when the child is injured affects recovery as the brain matures. Special education services can help students with TBI learn and progress in school.