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A Parent’s Guide to Brain Injuries in Children

By Sarah DiSparano Vega, Attorney, Rubenstein Law TBI Team

New research shows that our children are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and the impact of a childhood traumatic brain injury can last a lifetime.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half a million children from birth to the age of 14 are treated in emergency departments for TBI related Injuries each year and are most commonly sustained by children between the age of 0 and 4. 

A traumatic brain injury is any damage to the one’s brain that affects the functioning of the brain and can range from minor to severe. 
The 2 most common causes of brain injuries/deaths in children are:

  • CAR ACCIDENTS - are the leading cause of TBI related deaths in children 
    • Nearly 50% of children hospitalized due to a traffic-related injury incur a TBI
    • the leading cause of hospitalizations due to TBI

Many parents mistakenly believe in order for their child to have suffered a traumatic brain injury, their child must have lost consciousness. This, however, is NOT TRUE. Children who have suffered a TBI can experience the same symptoms as adults, but often have a more difficult time communicating their symptoms.  As a parent/guardian, if your child has been injured always be on the lookout for physical complaints such as memory loss, dizziness, headaches, limb weakness, or vision changes. 

However, there are more subtle behavior changes that could show an underlying TBI that parents should also know. If your child was in an accident and you notice any of the following behavior changes in your child, be sure to seek immediate medical attention:

  • Decline in School Performance
    • Any decline in performance at school could indicate your child is having a difficult time focusing or remembering information which could be a sign of a TBI. 
  • Child has become more Accident Prone
    • An increase in the frequency slips, trips, falls, stumbles could indicate issues with balance causing them to fall or lose coordination more easily.
  • Increase in Tantrums 
    • A child who suffers a TBI can exhibit symptoms in the form of a short temper or irritability that can lead to physical tantrums more easily
  • Regression in your Childs Development
    • A regression in development or learned skills such as walking, talking, or other abilities could be a sign of a TBI. 
  • Loss of Interest in Favorite Activities
    • Sudden changes in your child’s interests/hobbies could show these activities have become more challenging to them because of their TBI and they may decide not to take part instead of verbalizing what is going on. 
  • Loss of Appetite/Difficulty Sleeping
    • Observable changes in your child’s normal sleeping and eating patterns are possible signs of an underlying TBI.

As a parent, it is not only important to identify if your child has suffered a TBI, but likewise important to take all possible measures to prevent your children from suffering a TBI.  The following recommended ways reduce the likelihood of a TBI in your child: 

  1. Car Safety - always make sure your child is using the recommended car seat or safety restraint.
  2. Wear a helmet - all children should wear properly fitted helmets during outdoor activities such as playing contact sports, riding bikes, skateboards or inline skates, playing baseball/softball, riding horses, sledding, skiing or snowboarding
  3. Make your home as safe as possible- use safety gates on stairways, install bed rails, strap your child into their high chairs, do not leave young children unattended, and be cautious or use safety mats when your child is playing on hard flooring surfaces.

Here at Rubenstein Law, we take the time to carefully evaluate all of our clients, especially our minor clients, who have been in an accident to identify whether they have suffered a traumatic brain injury. In the event a child shows symptoms of a TBI, we make sure to educate their parents about the severity of such an injury and counsel them to not hesitate to seek important medical care. A child depending on their age, may not be able to verbalize their symptoms or otherwise assist in diagnosing their possible TBI, which is why our attorneys take the time to educate parents on these type of injuries and support their efforts to seek early medical treatment.