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Children With Head Injuries Can Face Lifetime of Problems
Date:10/27/2011

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Children can face a lifetime of problems after suffering head injuries from falls, car accidents and other mishaps, according to a new study.

From communication deficits to trouble with daily self-care, the effects of moderate to severe brain injuries can lead to "substantial long-term reduction" in quality of life for children with traumatic brain injury, the researchers found.

The findings "emphasize the need for prevention," said study author Dr. Frederick Rivara, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle. "Many of these injuries can be prevented by using bicycle helmets, and kids being buckled up in seatbelts, making sure there are gates on stairways." Schools also should consider different rules for football, he added.

The study, published online Oct. 24 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, looked at 729 children under 18 years old treated for brain injuries at emergency rooms in Seattle and Philadelphia between 2007 and 2008. Most of the injuries resulted from falls and car crashes, the study noted. Few were related to assault or abuse, said Rivara.

Levels of the children's functioning before they were injured were determined through phone interviews, usually with parents. Tests were done three months, one year and two years later to assess different skills and behaviors. They included whether the children were depressed, played or interacted with others, were teased, had trouble concentrating or remembering, and could do things "that other children can do," said Rivara.

The children were further assessed to see if they could "have a conversation, discuss a topic," and do things such as use the toilet, brush their teeth, and feed and dress themselves, he said.

Comparisons also were made to a separate group of 197 children who had visited the same eme
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