The authors found that while there was modest recovery in intellectual functioning and attention, weaknesses in many children with even moderate TBI persisted even two years after the injury, compared to children in control groups.
For children diagnosed with severe TBI, more help was needed. They showed significant problems within months on IQ, executive functioning (processing speed, attention), and verbal memory (both immediate and delayed). After two or more years, all areas studied were impaired.
"The good news is that the studies showed that children with mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions may show some difficulties in cognition initially, but the effects are subtle and typically diminish over time," said Babikian. "The bad news, though, is the existence of a subgroup of patients who show persistent neurocognitive problems and need to be screened and followed.
"And because younger children have more development ahead of them, the same injury can affect a four-year-old and a 12-year-old very differently," she said. "Further, children who suffer a severe brain injury may show a slower rate of development as a group, highlighting the importance of targeted treatment developed specifically for children with severe TBI."
Equally important, said Babikian, is the take-home message of prevention. "Because younger children with a traumatic brain injury seem to generally do worse than their older counterparts," she said, "the public health implication of this research is a reminder of the importance of the use of protective measures to minimize the effects of a brain injury, when one does occur, as well as prevention through consistent use of helmets and seatbelts."
|Contact: Roxanne Moster|
University of California - Los Angeles