Traumatic brain injury causes long-term disability in children
Children who suffer a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have long-lasting disabilities as a result of their injury. Two years after the initial injury, they may still have significant functional disabilities, along with reduced quality of life, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.
The researchers described the functional and quality of life outcomes for children who experienced traumatic brain injury while they were under 18 years old. Further improvement may be minimal past the first 2 years; the authors found no significant improvement in the children's function, ability to participate in activities, or quality of life between 24 and 36 months post-injury. This suggests that a plateau is reached in the recovery process.
Previously, it was thought that children's high neuroplasticity enabled their brains to recover faster from injury, allowing them to "bounce back" faster than adults' brains. However, research now suggests that children can suffer lasting cognitive deficits as a result of their injuries.
The researchers conclude that better interventions are needed in order to prevent long-lasting disability following TBI in children. Another recent study suggests that some kids with brain injuries face a "lifelong recovery process."
Frederick P. Rivara, Monica S. Vavilala, Dennis Durbin, Nancy Temkin, Jin Wang, Stephen S. O'Connor, Thomas D. Koepsell, Andrea Dorsch, Kenneth M. Jaffe. Persistence of Disability 24 to 36 Months after Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury: A Cohort Study. Journal of Neurotrauma, 2012; doi 10.1089/neu.2012.2434.