Some Children At Greater Disability Risk From Brain Injury
It is tragic when children and teens suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). All too often, such injuries result in disability and reduced quality of life, with the devastating effects sometimes lasting the victim's lifetime.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics examined the disparities in disability in certain young populations after TBI. Researchers compared the extent of disability in life functions between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white children.
Children and adolescents younger than 18 years old with either a mild, moderate, or severe TBI diagnosis were included. There were 74 Hispanic participants and 457 non-Hispanic participants. The study included measures of health-related quality of life, adaptive skills, and participation in activities. The patients were examined at 3, 12, 24, and 36 months after their brain injury, and their functional levels were compared to their abilities before the injury was sustained.
Sadly, all the children in the study suffered a lower health-related quality of life as a result of their injuries, but some had a better prognosis than others. The disparity lied in comparing the two groups. The non-Hispanic patients showed a greater improvement during the first three years after their injuries, but the Hispanic patients were at a higher risk of lasting impairments.
The study authors also noted that there were significant differences with disability in the domains of communication and self-care, with the Hispanic participants more likely to have problems in these areas. There was also a disparity among the children regarding participation in activities, although the difference was only observed at the examination three months after injury.
The researchers concluded that Hispanic children report larger and longer-term disabilities as a result of traumatic brain injuries, compared to non-Hispanic white children. But what is the reason for the disparity? Further research is needed before interventions can be employed to improve the outcomes for all young brain injury victims.
Former research about TBI has shown that children are particularly susceptible to long-term disability and noted that many kids face a lifelong recovery process.
Jimenez N, Ebel BE, et al. Disparities in disability after traumatic brain injury among Hispanic children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2013 May 6. [Epub ahead of print].