Very few studies, however, have followed youngsters from the time of their injury through adolescence, to assess the full effect of the brain injury.
The first study looked at 40 children between the ages of 2 and 7 who had experienced a traumatic brain injury. They were compared to 16 healthy children. The children were examined 12 months, 30 months and 10 years after the injury, according to the study.
Not surprisingly, they found that children with the most severe injuries had the worst cognitive outcomes.
But, the news wasn't all bad. Initially, while the brain was recovering from the injury, the children didn't make significant developmental gains for about three years. However, after that period, and at least up until 10 years after the injury, the children began to make some age-appropriate developmental gains.
That means that even many years after an injury, interventions and therapies for these children may be effective, said the study's lead author, Vicki Anderson, a professor in critical care and neuroscience research at the Murdoch Institute.
"Although this does not suggest that children catch up to peers, it does imply that the gap does not widen during this period," she said.
This study also found that the home environment and relationships could make a difference in a child's recovery. More stable homes with less family conflict appeared to contribute to a child's recovery.
"It's difficult to predict outcome," said Anderson. "A quality home environment and access to appropriate rehabilitation is critical to maximize outcomes. Or, the young brain is plastic, and so the better the environment, the better the outcome."
The second study, led by Crowe, followed a group of 53 c
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