Child Brain Injuries Are Different From Adults
Young children are most at risk for permanent learning difficulties from traumatic brain injuries. These problems may not be recognized and are often misdiagnosed as learning or behavioral problems.
Children’s Brains are Different from Adult’s
Childhood traumatic brain injuries are different than those occurring in adults because younger children’s brains are still developing. The previous thought was when a child suffered a TBI that the brain could make up for its damaged tissue and deficits by bypassing them. However, research suggests that this might not be entirely accurate.
When an adult or an older child has a brain injury, important building blocks that are already in place from previously learned information are retained and used. However, in young children, these building blocks have not yet had a chance to develop. This can handicap them as learners when compared to brain-injured adults or older children who already have a larger foundation of intact information.
The effects of the TBI might not show up immediately after the injury. They often because noticeable throughout the course of the child’s development when those affected skills are needed. For example, when a child with a TBI from an automobile crash reaches the stage in their development where abstract thinking is required and has difficulties, the cause may not be adequately identified. Often such problems are mistaken as learning disabilities or behavioral issues.
What Should Parents Be Aware Of?
When the long-term effects of a TBI emerge, these problems need to be dealt with appropriately instead of being dismissed as learning disabilities or emotional problems. Strategies used to treat those problems can cause the child to feel confused or damaged as a learner because they are ineffective for brain-injured children.
Because there is often no accurate way to predict if a young child will experience future deficits from a TBI, parents should be aware of the possibility. An injury attorney can advise parents of their rights to protect their child’s future needs if TBI issues are discovered later in life.
How Schools Can Help Children with TBI
In recent years, the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City has worked with educators and identified key areas to address to meet the needs of children who have had a TBI. Often schools are unaware that a child has experienced a TBI. If educators are aware that a child has suffered a brain injury, they can better assess his or her educational needs and make the appropriate modifications for the child.