Head Trauma Linked to Attention Difficulties Among Kids

Children and adults alike can suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), but the repercussions of a head trauma can vary depending upon the age of the sufferer. According to a recent article in the Washington Post about a peer-reviewed study in Pediatrics, kids who sustain even mild head injuries can be at greater risk of experiencing attention difficulties. These effects may take weeks, months, or even years to appear. Marsh Konigs, one of the authors of the study, explained that “the effects may not be immediate and could occur long after the incident,” but brain injuries often do result in “very short lapses in focus, causing children to be slower.”

The study looked at children between the ages of 6 and 13 who had suffered TBIs. Some of the kids had suffered mild TBIs, such as concussions, while others sustained more severe trauma. Moreover, some of the children examined in the study experienced a brain injury that resulted in vomiting and loss of consciousness for more than half an hour.

Researchers asked parents and teachers of the kids affected by TBIs to “rate their attention and other indicators of their health” around 18 months after the initial injuries occurred. The study determined that children who had sustained a traumatic brain injury experienced “more lapses in attention and other issues, such as anxiety, a tendency to internalize their problems, and slower processing speed.” For quite some time, researchers and pediatricians have theorized that brain injuries in young patients ultimately can produce a “secondary attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” and the current study in Pediatrics suggests that those suspicions are accurate.

Physicians indicate that children with attention problems caused by TBIs also experience problems in other areas. For example, according to Bradley L. Schlaggar, the head of Pediatric and Developmental Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine, “an impulsive child who is aggressive will have difficulty with relationships, with school performance, with participation in extracurricular activities, and so forth.”

Learning More About Childhood Brain Injuries

While both kids and adults can suffer traumatic brain injuries, children often have different symptoms and repercussions than adults. A fact sheet from the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) lists some key statistics surrounding childhood head trauma:

  • Children between the ages of 0-4 and 15-19 years old are at greatest risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury.
  • On average, around 62,000 kids between the ages of 0-19 require hospitalization each year as a result of TBIs, while more than 564,000 require treatment in an emergency department.
  • More than 2,600 kids die from TBIs each year.
  • Causes of TBIs in kids tend to include car accidents, falls, sports injuries, and child abuse.

Symptoms of TBIs in children can look different than those in adults. The BIAA lists the following as signs of a possible concussion or more severe brain injury:

Physical impairment: Headaches, problems with speech/vision/hearing, motor coordination difficulties, muscle spasticity, paralysis, seizures, fatigue, and balance problems.

Cognitive impairment: Memory problems, concentration difficulties, slowness of thinking, limited attention span, communication difficulties, problems with planning/writing/reading, and judgment issues.

Emotional impairment: Mood swings, anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, restlessness, lack of motivation, and difficulty controlling emotions.

If your child recently suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may be able to seek financial compensation on his or her behalf. Contact an experienced brain injury lawyer to discuss your case.

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