Today’s post is a continuation on last week’s post about head injuries based on a recent presentation by Pat Sublette, PhD.
The more I learn about Traumatic Brain Injury, the more I decide that no one is leaving my home without a helmet strapped onto their heads.
Well, not really, but that is what I’d prefer.
Before becoming a mom, I took on a second job as a Saturday Speech Therapist for a pediatric rehabilitation hospital. Most of my patients had head injuries. Most of my patients were teenage boys. It’s a sad fact that of the 1.4 million pediatric Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) each year, 50% occur to youth between the ages of 16-21. The second highest risk age group is 0-4. Common causes of TBI include vehicular accidents, high risk sports, pedestrian accidents, violence, falls, and abuse. Children with a TBI are less likely to lose consciousness and more likely to survive than adults with TBI. Although this is great news for families, it also means that many TBIs are never diagnosed and experience life-long symptoms.
Last year I met a student in my school who was experiencing significant struggles with school. He had difficulties with memory, reading, following verbal directions, and getting along with peers. His mother stated that his siblings were straight A students and never had trouble with school. She wanted extra support for this child. In a case history, it was revealed that her son was in a car accident at age 4 and “he’s never been the same since.” Although we had suspicions of TBI, there was no medical documentation. Without a medical diagnosis, we could not pursue that eligibility for special education services. Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario.
There are two types of Traumatic Brain Injuries: open and closed. An open injury is obvious because the head is actually opened (such as a gun shot). A closed injury cannot be seen. The brain is literally shaken within the skull cavity, ripping neurons and vessels and puncturing brain tissue. The frontal lobe of the brain is usually affected–causing difficulties in initiation, problem solving, judgment, planning, attention, and expressive language. With these impairments, of course a child would struggle in school and beyond.
If a child is involved in any serious head injury, make sure to have a physician evaluate their status. Remember that closed brain injuries are not visible, may not include loss of consciousness, and can take several days (or weeks) before symptoms appear.