How To Recognize Traumatic Brain Injuries in Young Children and Teens
Whether they are toddlers or teens, it can be difficult to tell when children have suffered a serious head or brain injuries if they are not crying or complaining. Far too often, small children and teens just think they are feeling a bit odd – and have no idea that they should either obtain immediate medical help or lie down and rest for an extended period.
All this puts extra pressure on parents, teachers, and other caregivers to carefully observe and get help for any child with visible problems. Yet until children reach school age, (unless they are undergoing routine medical exams), the signs and symptoms of major brain injuries may be hard to discern.
This article looks at how many children’s head injuries occur and common signs that a child or teen is struggling with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Diagnostic information is also shared. Early discovery is crucial so that meaningful physical and psychological therapies can be offered to help these children try to recover some of their lost skills.
How young children and teens often suffer head injuries
- Bicycle accidents
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Harm suffered while playing contact sports
- Assaults or physical fights with others
- Falls while playing
Different types of symptoms that may indicate a child or teen have suffered a head injury
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Loss of consciousness or lapsing into a coma
- Unusual changes in the child’s bladder or bowel functions
- Reduced muscle strength
Besides the general symptoms named above, there may be visual & auditory problems
- Double vision may be reported
- Unexpected, new difficulties in seeing clearly
- New light sensitivities
- Complaints about new deficits in the child’s field of vision
- Changes in the ability to perceive colors, shapes, and sizes of objects
- Difficulties in hearing someone’s words mixed in with other noises
- Temporary or more permanent complaints about hearing loss
- Extreme sensitivity to different types of sounds
Cognitive changes or new problems in thinking or understanding
- Difficulties, in focusing in on reading material or class/family discussions
- A reduced attention span
- Unusual problems with maintaining attention while completing tasks or conversations
- Problems with changing the child’s focus between different tasks
The child’s cognitive difficulties can also include certain problems with executive functioning.
- Setting goals
- Making decisions
- Being able to think through matters in a flexible manner
- Having trouble forming clear and meaningful judgments
- Difficulties with initiating tasks and monitoring the child’s own performance
- Problems with forming different strategies for success or achievement
- Unique challenges with planning and organizational skills
General learning and memory impairments
- Trouble with forming new short-term memories while learning
- Problems with following directions by using the child’s working memory
- Distinct difficulties with retrieving information just learned
- Signs of different types of amnesia – both anterograde and retrograde
All the problems named above can be further complicated by a child or teen’s inability to properly observe and interpret how to relate to others socially.
Diagnostic tests often conducted or run on children to check for possible brain injuries
- Language, speech, and cognitive tests. These can help doctors and psychologists determine if a possible brain injury has affected the child’s ability to speak, read, or memorize information properly.
- A computed tomography scan of the brain. A CT scan of the brain can reveal if there is any bleeding in the brain or any bruising caused by a recent injury.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests. These types of brain images can produce a much more detailed look at brain tissues.
- An intracranial pressure monitoring test. Harmful impacts to a child’s brain can cause swelling – that can then cause a serious increase in brain pressure. This test allows doctors to take a measurement of any brain swelling.
Problems children can face after suffering from traumatic brain injuries and returning to school
- Unrealistic expectations. Teachers may remember past capabilities and have problems adjusting to a child’s new challenges or difficulties.
- Confusion can occur when a child is asked to handle either simple or more complex tasks.
- Unexpected periods of lethargy may develop.
- The child may become easily distracted and unable to concentrate on any schoolwork
- Projects may no longer be finished within the allotted amount of time.
- Comprehension problems may appear during class discussions.
Children who have suffered any type of brain injury may need extensive counseling to help them cope with their many frustrations over not being able to perform very well anymore.
Possible school accommodations can help brain-injured children perform better
When some of the problems named above start to develop, parents should take their child to a primary care doctor, a neuropsychologist, and a regular psychologist to have the child fully evaluated. If the parents, teachers, and children can work together and agree on a formal, accommodation plan for the child’s education, one can be coordinated through the school district. IEPs or individual education plans have become quite common for children who have unique learning challenges. In some cases, they may be granted the following accommodations.
- Extra time to complete different work assignments.
- Additional classroom breaks to get away from difficult amounts of stress.
- The child may be excused from having to perform the material in front of the class or to read aloud.
- The quality of the work done may be the main emphasis – instead of always counting off for the child not getting as much work done as others.
- A child may be given more time to complete their tests.
If your child has suffered a serious brain injury due to the negligence of someone else, you need to contact our New York City traumatic brain injury law firm. We will fully investigate the facts of your child’s case and then work hard to win the maximum compensation available for his/her benefit. Children should fully recover for all their innocent pain and suffering, loss of functional capacities, medical treatments, and expenses (past and future), and other pertinent losses.