Traumatic brain injuries can impair victims for life. You are accustomed to hearing about these injuries in adults – specifically professional athletes, or stories about people in car accidents – but children are susceptible as well. In fact, the risk may be even greater for children – and the effects can be even more severe.
Children of all ages are at risk of head injury, but it is often highest among teens. According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, males are at a higher risk of TBIs than females, and head injuries are more common in spring and summer. However, while these factors can increase the likelihood of an injury, they are not the only ones.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Car accidents are one of the leading causes of brain trauma in children. Even an injury like whiplash can be more severe for a child. But the greatest risk of brain trauma is for children who are outside of the cars, walking along or riding their bicycles.
- Shaking a child: Violently shaking or striking a child can lead to TBI. Parents may not seek help for their child for fear of repercussions against themselves, which can potentially exacerbate the injury. Children do not always survive, either.
- Falls: Children are still learning to walk and balance themselves. Even as children age, they will participate in other activities like bike riding and skating. Falls are common, but when they fall and hit their head, it is cause for concern.
- Sports: Kids participate in sports as they are an excellent way to stay active, learn life lessons and make friends. (They’re also fun.) Contact sports are dangerous and can lead to head trauma. While there is safety equipment available, it cannot prevent all injuries.
- Dog bites: Animal attacks are always serious, but they are especially so for children. A young child can be permanently scarred (physically and mentally) by a dog bite, but brain trauma is not uncommon for small children, whose heads are at the same level as a medium-sized dog.
- Medical malpractice: When doctors are negligent, they can cause injury to the head or brain, resulting in cognitive impairment. Failing to diagnose brain trauma can also lead to additional medical concerns later.
Categories of pediatric TBIs
Pediatric TBIs take many forms, and your child can suffer several head traumas. Stanford Medicine Children's Health outlines the most common categories of pediatric brain trauma as:
Concussions are considered mild traumatic brain injuries, but there is nothing mild about head trauma in children. A concussion causes the brain to stop working for a short period, leading to a loss of alertness or awareness. Your child can suffer these impairments for a few minutes or hours.
Concussions are not obvious, and you might be unaware that they are happening until much later. Multiple concussions can lead to permanent brain damage in the future. After any head trauma, take your child for a medical evaluation.
The brain can suffer bruising, which leads to bleeding and swelling where the head is struck. It can also lead to the tearing of the internal tissues, blood vessels, and lining. One challenge is determining where the contusion is since it can happen at the injury site or on the opposite end.
Another pediatric TBI category is skull fractures which have four subcategories. All injuries are severe and require constant monitoring of the child. The four possible skull fractures a child can suffer:
- Depressed skull fracture: part of the skull sinks where the broken bone is and your child may require surgery.
- Linear skull fracture: a broken bone that does not move and requires constant monitoring of the child in the hospital. The injury can heal independently, but the child should not leave the hospital or resume activities until medical professionals sign off.
- Basilar skull fracture: broken bones at the base of the skull, often appearing as bruising behind the ear or around the eyes. There is also clear fluid drainage from the ears and nose. Children need constant monitoring in a hospital setting when they suffer these fractures.
- Diastatic skull fracture: These factors can happen along the suture lines in the skull and widen the normal suture lines. These fractures impede the bone growth of children. Newborns and infants commonly experience these fractures more than other age groups.
Why are pediatric brain injuries so devastating?
Aside from the initial impact and symptoms, complications are also prevalent. Children can lose speech, vision, hearing, taste, or muscle function. The complications are contingent on where the injury occurs, and these changes can last for short or long periods. Your child will require lifelong care and treatment and may never get back to their normal state.
Brain injuries are the leading cause of disability in children of all ages. Children develop their brains until they reach age 21, and that means when they suffer a TBI, it stunts their growth and development. While some TBIs show symptoms immediately, others take time to appear. You should look for the following symptoms in your child after head trauma:
- Cuts on the skull
- Balance problems
- Noise and light-sensitive
- Memory or concentration problems
- Change in sleep patterns
- Trouble walking
- Slurred speech
- Pale skin color
- Loss of consciousness
The list is not exhaustive, and many signs can indicate your child needs medical attention. Monitor your child and seek medical guidance immediately. The sooner you get treatment, the better their outcome. When head trauma is the cause of someone’s negligence, you should also speak with a Kennewick traumatic brain injury lawyer, as there are legal options available.
Your main concern is your child’s health and future, and when they suffer a TBI, that can significantly impact their life. Telaré law focuses on your case so you can focus on your child. You will have countless medical appointments and can become a full-time caregiver requiring you to leave your job. After a pediatric TBI, the losses can be substantial, and you must employ the assistance of a Kennewick traumatic brain injury lawyer. Speak to Telaré Law in Richland or Kennewick today. Call our office or complete our contact form today.