Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injuries

August 15, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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For parents, there are not many things scarier than seeing your child suffer a head injury. After an injury occurs, immediate diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care is critical for avoiding long-term complications. This is especially true in the case of pediatric traumatic brain injuries.

Because young brains are still developing, it may be harder to spot some of the signs of significant brain trauma. Immediate diagnosing and treating pediatric traumatic brain injury as soon as possible, doctors can create a treatment and care plan to minimize the long-term effects. This overview can help you understand the causes, symptoms, treatments, and care needs for children with pediatric traumatic brain injuries so you can make the best decisions for your family.

What are pediatric traumatic brain injuries?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any sudden injury to the head that causes damage to the brain. TBI can be both penetrative, such as from a gunshot wound, or closed, such as from a fall. The severity of a TBI can range from mild to moderate to severe. One of the most common types of mild traumatic brain injury is a concussion, which is when a blow to the head causes the brain to impact the skull.

Pediatric traumatic brain injuries are simply TBIs that affect younger patients. Although many of the causes and symptoms are similar to TBI in adult patients, there are some key differences. Because brain development is ongoing in babies and young children, symptoms and effects of a pediatric traumatic brain injury can change over time.

The severity of the pediatric TBI is dependent on the type and extent of the injury, whether there was a loss of consciousness, the length of time that consciousness was lost, and other factors.

Pediatric TBI is relatively common, affecting more than half a million children each year, according to 2010 research. Children under four are frequently diagnosed with pediatric TBI and have the highest rate of emergency room visits related to TBI.

Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Causes

There is a wide range of causes for TBI, with anything that can result in a blow to the head being a potential cause of brain injury. Specific types of pediatric traumatic brain injury can include:

  • Car accidents can cause both open and penetrative TBI
  • Falls, although more common in older patients, can still be a risk factor for pediatric TBI
  • Sports injuries
  • Abuse and shaken baby syndrome, which are among the most common causes for children under four
  • Gunshot wounds

Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

The specific symptoms of a pediatric traumatic brain injury can be dependent on the cause and severity of the injury. Some of the more common symptoms across TBI types include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion and temporary amnesia
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the years
  • Difficulty concentrating

It can be difficult to identify some symptoms of pediatric TBI due to the need to self-report problems such as vision, hearing, or taste issues. Seeking diagnosis and treatment is essential for any young child who has potentially suffered a TBI.

Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Complications

Long-term complications as a result of pediatric traumatic brain injuries can include learning disability, behavioral and emotional problems, chronic headaches, and other issues. Early and consistent treatment of a pediatric TBI will result in better outcomes for your child.

Diagnosis Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury

When seeing a doctor after suffering a head injury, most patients will undergo the following steps:

  • Questions about the event and resulting symptoms
  • Review of medical history
  • Full physical examination including neurologic examination and neuropsychological testing
  • Imaging tests such as functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans to measure any visible brain damage or complications

Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment

Treatment of pediatric traumatic brain injury will depend on the severity. In the mildest cases, the best treatment is rest and over-the-counter medication. Children who overdo it after an injury may result in a slower recovery time.

Moderate to severe pediatric TBI can require surgery, more extensive medication, various physical and psychological rehabilitation therapies, and other treatments. Pediatric traumatic brain injuries can result in permanent disabilities, and in some cases, long-term effects can develop gradually over time.

Caring for a Child with Traumatic Brain Injury

In cases with longer recoveries and long-term needs, families managing pediatric TBI often turn to pediatric home health care services. From providing basic supervision, helping administer medication and nutrition, assisting with rehabilitation, and accompanying to appointments, a pediatric home health professional can be a key member of the family and the larger treatment team.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer one-on-one support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.