One of the hardest things about being a personal injury attorney is seeing the grief of parents as their child suffers through a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that they sustained in a car accident due to a negligent, reckless, or drunk driver.
Though there is some satisfaction in finding justice and compensation to help with medical bills, any family dealing with a child suffering from TBI will tell you, that’s far from where the struggle ends. We have written articles about childhood head injuries, how they can effect emotional development, and how they may even lead to violent tendencies later in life.
Now there have been some more comprehensive studies that show childhood TBI victims may suffer even more dire consequences to their ability to learn that may effect how well they achieve throughout their lifetime.
Children and Brain Injuries
Children often suffer mild brain injuries many times throughout their lives resulting from a fall. About 1 in 30 newborns will have a traumatic brain injury by age 16, some researchers have found. Researchers also know that the impairments after these injuries persist until at least five years after the accident. However, experts confirm motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of severe brain injury in kids.
Now, two Australian research studies have been released recently that examined the impact of traumatic brain injury in children as young as 2 years, and found that these injuries affected cognitive function, IQ and even behavior for some time.
One, conducted by the University of Melbourne lead by Dr. Vicki Anderson, evaluated 40 children who had a traumatic brain injury. The accidents happened when they ranged in age from 2 to 7. They divided them into three groups by severity of their injuries.
The categories were:
- Seven had mild injuries.
- Twenty had moderate injuries.
- Thirteen had severe injuries.
Through the course of the 10 year study, researchers compared the children with brain injuries to healthy children. The children were tested on several measures, including their IQ, cognitive skills, and social and behavioral skills. They were also tested on their adaptive ability such as their response to daily demands and any learning difficulties.
Researchers found that recovery from traumatic brain injury can continue for years after the initial injury. The kids with the most severe brain injuries had the most significant results, showing lower IQs of between 18 and 26 points. Children who had moderate-to-severe TBIs scored lower on IQ tests by about seven to 10 points. Mild traumatic brain injuries didn’t seem to significantly affect IQ.
A child’s home environment can positively influence recovery if the child lives in a stable, caring home.
“A quality home environment and access to appropriate rehabilitation is critical to maximize outcomes,” Anderson said.
Long Term Effects Of Minor Accidents
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs occur after a blow or bump to the head. The CDC says that young children under 4 years old are particularly at risk of experiencing a TBI, which can occur from a fall, a car accident, deliberate child abuse, sports or being hit with a moving object. The agency says that about one-third of children who survive a TBI will have lasting damage.
The second study was led by Louise Crowe, a postdoctoral research officer at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. His team followed a group of 53 children who had sustained a TBI before they were 3 years old as well as 27 non-injured children. They followed up with these children when they were between 4 and 6 years old. The average time since the injury occurred was 40 months.
This study found that children who had moderate-to-severe TBIs scored lower on IQ tests by about seven to 10 points. However, though the test subjects with mild and moderate-to-severe TBIs showed no significant decrease in IQ, they were associated with an increased risk of behavior problems.
“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,” Crowe said. “In reality, the soft skull and growing brain of a baby put them at a greater risk of future problems.”
Researchers in this study also stressed the importance of a strong, stress-free environment with ample support from the parents to increase the chances of a strong, lasting, and balanced recovery.
“Children from cohesive family environments and children whose parents had lower levels of stress showed better recovery,” Crowe said. “Why this is so is unclear, but it may be due to a parent spending more time with their children, and children also growing up in a less stressful environment.
Washington Brain Injury Lawyer
As you can see, the main cause of TBI in kids is car accidents and depending on the severity of the injury, this can be a life altering injury affecting their future potential, employment, and quality of life. It can also lead to antisocial and potentially violent behavior. This is bad for both the child and parents.
Also, researchers confirm that long-term care and a solid, stress-free environment at home with ample support and time spent on recovery is key to returning the child on a positive road for the rest of their lives. This requires compensation far beyond what insurance companies feel as if they are required to pay because it may mean that one or both parents need to quit their jobs to care for the child full time as well as physical therapy, mental therapy, and moving out of the city or other high stress environments.
If you or someone you know has suffered from a traumatic brain injury then some of the best advice they can get is to find experienced legal council that can properly negotiate with insurance companies and medical care providers to assure that you get the compensation you deserve. Call the brain injury attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation on your legal options.