Last updated Feb. 12, 2018.
Injury is the leading cause of death for children in Canada, reports the Public Health Agency of Canada. Many of these deaths involve acquired brain injuries. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical, given that the impact of a serious traumatic brain injury can be massive, extensive and long-term.
The long-term implications of TBI can include cognitive problems, such as trouble making decisions or concentrating and difficultly with judgment. Brain injuries are not always immediately apparent, and a delay in treatment could prove fatal. This is why it is so important to seek medical attention after a car crash, assault, sports injury, slip/trip and fall, or other accident.
If your child was recently in some type of accident, stay alert to any signs that your child may have sustained a brain injury. Take your child to the doctor after an accident for an evaluation. Naturally, if you’re ever in doubt, seek medical advice.
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Child Brain Injury Symptoms
Brain injuries are extremely complex, and the symptoms vary widely. Damage to the brain can produce cognitive, perceptual, physical, behavioral, and emotional symptoms.
Some signs of brain injury — such as convulsions, scalp wounds, clear fluid or blood draining from the ears, and vomiting — are difficult to miss. Other symptoms are more subtle and may be easy to overlook or misinterpret.
The types of symptoms of brain damage depend upon the location and extent of the injury, but here are a few common ones for both children and adults. Some of these, of course, a child may not be able to explain to us.
A loss of consciousness
A person who suffers a TBI may lose consciousness for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Don’t overlook a brief “blackout” — it may be a sign of serious injury.
A change in behavior
Be aware of even minor personality changes after a head injury, such as a fall in the home or a collision on the hockey rink. A TBI victim may feel or act different than usual. Moodiness, agitation, or even anxiety and depression may be present. Slurred speech and a loss of coordination are other possible signs of a serious brain injury.
A headache that won’t go away
An accident victim or someone struck in the head may write off a lingering headache as something “to be expected.” However, a persistent or worsening headache is actually a sign of serious injury. The TBI also may be accompanied by neck pain or other body discomfort.
Changes in senses
A traumatic brain injury can mean a change in the senses. This can include blurred vision, a strange taste in the mouth, unusual smells or a ringing in the ears (tinnitus). A TBI victim also may be especially sensitive to bright lights and loud noises.
Unexplained weakness and fatigue
A brain injury can cause an overall feeling of fatigue and sleepiness. In fact, those with severe traumatic brain injury may have difficulty waking up from a nap. TBI also may lead to a feeling of weakness in individual limbs or digits, such as the toes or fingers. Also be on alert for fingers and toes that feel numb or tingly.
Is it a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury?
A concussion is actually a form of traumatic brain injury, albeit mild. The above symptoms may indicate a more serious brain injury and require immediate medical attention. But any sort of brain damage should be reviewed by a medical professional as soon as possible.
According to a pamphlet from the Centre for Childhood Disability Research at McMaster University, some symptoms of concussion in infants and toddlers may include:
- headache, rubbing the head;
- nausea, vomiting;
- poor coordination, loss of balance;
- inability to perform newly learned skills;
- disinterest in toys;
- sleeping and eating changes;
- fatigue, listlessness;
- light and noise sensitivity; and
- visual problems.
If you suspect your child has a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury, your senses. KidsHealth.org says if you aren’t comfortable with how your child is acting or appearing, rouse them gently by sitting him or her up. They should fuss and attempt to resettle, but if they don’t, try to wake them up fully. If they can’t be woken up or show any of the above signs, call your doctor or an ambulance.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Brain Injuries
Physicians diagnose brain injuries by using neuropsychological assessments and neuroimaging tests, such as MRI and CT scans. Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial to improve the chances of a full recovery.
Symptoms of a brain injury can be hard to detect in children because:
- there can a wide variance in the degree of the symptoms;
- young children may be unable to tell parents that they’re hurt;
- some tell-tale indicators of TBI aren’t easy to recognize; and
- the onset of symptoms may be delayed, and the parents may not correlate the impairments with a recent accident.
This is why it’s crucial for parents to take their child for a thorough medical examination after any type of incident that caused impact to the head. Even if the initial medical report is clear, parents will want to keep a keen eye for any unusual changes in behavior.
Treatment will vary according to the age of the child and the severity of the injury. Initial treatments will focus on stabilization and controlling swelling to prevent further injury. Once stabilized, other possible components of a childhood brain injury treatment plan include physical therapy, behavioral therapy and counseling, occupational therapy, or speech therapy.
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Free Consult with a Child Brain Injury Lawyer at Preszler Law
Brain injuries can cause scores of complications and might require long-term treatment in severe cases. Damages can include not only medical treatments, but also future rehabilitation, emotional damages, and pain and suffering. Valid cases for a child TBI might come about for any number of reasons, such as slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice cases, playground accidents, premises liability cases, etc.
If your child sustained a brain injury in an accident for which another party is responsible — or even partly responsible for — you might be able to file a claim to seek compensation. To speak with a brain injury lawyer, contact Preszler Law today at 1-800-JUSTICE® for a free consultation.