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Child brain injury: How injury symptoms linger after concussion, TBI

Pediatric brain injury symptoms, statistics and accommodations

We’re now well into Brain Injury Awareness Month and our attorneys have gotten lots of great feedback to our blogs and to our $10,000 giveaway to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan. Today I’d like to discuss the topic of child brain injury, or as attorneys and doctors frequently refer to it, “pediatric acquired brain injury.”

Child brain injury is a very important topic that is not often addressed. And that’s odd considering that child brain injury is the No. 1 cause of death and disability for children and young adults in the United States.

As with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adults, symptoms in children can evolve over time. But for children, treatment and understanding is especially imperative, as their brains are still growing while trying to heal from such serious trauma, and they often have a hard time communicating symptoms to parents.

Recently, I read an interesting article from the Associated Press writer Lindsey Tanner, which illustrates this point: Even mild concussions can cause lingering symptoms.

Ms. Tanner cites a new study by Keith Owen Yeates, a neuropsychologist at Ohio State University’s Center for BioBehavioral Health, which found that “[c]hildren with even relatively mild concussions can have persistent attention and memory problems a year after their injuries.”

The study, whose purpose is to “help[] identify which kids may be most at risk for” long-term symptoms, was recently published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.” The study tracked children and their symptoms for up to a year after the onset of their brain injuries.

The long-term problems identified by the study included forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention and fatigue: They “were more common in study children who lost consciousness or who had other mild head trauma that caused brain abnormalities on imaging tests.”

Additionally, Ms. Tanner pointed out: “Most children studied had concussions from playing sports or from falls. About 20 percent had less common mild brain [injury] from [car] accidents and other causes.”

Nevertheless, despite the study’s conclusions, Ms. Tanner noted that Archives editor, Dr. Frederick Rivara, urged that more needs to be discovered about the lingering problems that traumatic brain injuries present for children.”

Sadly, I can tell you from personal experience as a lawyer helping children who have traumatic brain injury that complicated, longer-lasting problems are not uncommon.

Child brain injury symptoms

Infants and young children with brain injuries often lack the communication skills to report symptoms of pediatric brain injury. Please watch out for these symptoms, which according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Headaches,
  • Sensory problems,
  • Confusion,
  • Change in nursing or eating habits,
  • Persistent crying,
  • Unusual or easy irritability,
  • Change in ability to pay attention,
  • Inability to be consoled,
  • Change in sleep habits,
  • Sad or depressed mood,
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities.

Always see your doctor if you or your child has received a blow to the head or has lost consciousness. And seek emergency medical care as soon as possible if there are any signs or symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Here’s more information about brain injury symptoms.

Child brain injury facts

Here are some staggering facts about child brain injury, from the Sarah Jane Brain Project:

  • More than 3 million new pediatric brain injuries ranging from “mild” to severe occur every single year in the United States alone.
  • More than 1 million children are hospitalized each year due to pediatric TBI.
  • More than 17,000 children annually incur a permanent disability due to pediatric TBI.
  • More than 5,000 deaths occur annually due to child brain injury.
  • A new brain injury occurs EVERY 21 SECONDS. Comparatively speaking, a new case of autism is diagnosed every 20 minutes.

Understanding mild traumatic brain injury

The Associated Press story was notable, as it highlights the study, which aims to better find the children who are more susceptible to long-term symptoms. It also mentions the importance of offering special accommodations for children with brain injury and concussions, such as giving them extra time for test taking or wearing sunglasses if bright light gives them headaches.

The story ends with an important point made by pediatrician Dr. Rivara: “Mild traumatic brain injuries, including concussions should not necessarily be treated as minor injuries.”

I always stress to my readers that “mild traumatic brain injury” is simply a medical classification and does not mean that the injury itself is mild. The term can be highly misleading to juries and the public, who might not understand all of the pain, impairments and life changes that a person with mild traumatic brain injury suffers. Mild traumatic brain injury is a very serious condition, and cannot be taken lightly — especially when a child is injured.

How you can help raise money for Michigan traumatic brain injury survivors – with just one click of your mouse

As part of Brain Injury Awareness month, we are raising $10,000 for brain injury survivors. But we need a little help from the Facebook community.

For every “Like” Michigan Auto Law receives on Facebook, we will donate $1 — up to $10,000 — to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan.

Here is our Michigan Auto Law Facebook page.

Please help our attorneys raise money for this very important cause. You can actually help children with brain injury have a better life.

Steven M. Gursten is a brain injury attorney and head of Michigan Auto Law. He is a member of the Executive Board of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brian Injury Lawyer Group and sits on the lawyer committee of the Sarah Jane Brain Project. Steve has received the highest reported trial verdict and settlement for a TBI victim in Michigan in multiple years, according to published reports by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Related information to protect yourself:

Symptoms of traumatic brain injury and concussion after a car accident

Closed head injury FAQs

Minor concussions can lead to serious TBI

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm in the state exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident lawsuits. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. Call (800) 777-0028 to speak with one of our Michigan brain injury attorneys today.

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