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Studies Look at Long-Term Effects of Head Injuries in Young Children

Multiple recent studies have revealed that head injuries in young children – particularly traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – can affect IQ, cognitive function, and even behavior for an extended period. Study results also showed, however, that recovery can continue for years. Several factors have a significant impact on recovery, including the child’s home environment and the presence or absence of certain genes.

Each of three studies (two conducted in Australia, and one in the U.S.) concluded that a loving, stable home environment has an immensely positive impact on a child’s recovery after a TBI. One in 30 children will experience a TBI by the age of 16. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs often occur when a child suffers a bump or blow to the head. As such, young children have the greatest risk of a TBI, and approximately one-third of children who suffer a TBI will have permanent or long-lasting damage. A MA injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve suffered a brain injury due to another’s negligence.

“Many people think that the soft skull of a baby may give them some advantage because if they fall they are not likely to sustain a skull fracture. Also, because a baby’s brain is growing so quickly, it seems like the brain may be able to fix an injury. In reality, the soft skull and growing brain of a baby put them at a greater risk of future problems,” said Louise Crowe, an author of one of the studies and a postdoctoral research officer at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

“Children with significant head injuries do recover, but they are generally slower to learn concepts, and some high-level skills are often too difficult for them,” said Crowe.

Therapy May Still be Effective Years Later

However, until now, few studies have tracked long-term effects of brain injuries in children. According to Vicki Anderson, a professor in critical care and neuroscience research at the Murdoch Institute, therapy and intervention may still be effective years after the initial injury.

“Although this does not suggest that children catch up to peers, it does imply that the gap does not widen during this period,” said Anderson.

Further, home environment has a significant impact on a child’s recovery. The more stable the home, the better the chance of full recovery. “It’s difficult to predict outcome,” Anderson said. “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.” A Boston TBI lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Meanwhile in the United States, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital conducted a study on long-term TBI effects for an average of seven years from initial injury. Individuals with mild to moderate TBIs were twice as likely to develop attention disorders, compared to five times more likely for those with severe TBIs. This study also emphasized the importance of home environment. Children with moderate injuries from poor home environments demonstrated worse outcomes than children with severe injuries who live in stable, loving homes. Although the reason for these outcomes is still unknown, it may have to do with early family response, which seems critical to the overall outcome of the child’s long-term prognosis.

More than 630,000 children visit the E.R. for TBIs annually in the U.S. Predictors of recovery, however, remain unclear. These studies provide greater insight into this grey area; particularly when it comes to the roles of environment and specific genes. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is currently working on ways to identify the genes essential to TBI recovery, and how environmental factors may interact with these genes. To do so, they are collecting DNA samples from hundreds of children who have suffered a TBI.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers Serving All of MA

If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. It is our goal to get you the compensation you deserve so that you can get on with your life. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.