Traumatic Brain Injury
What is traumatic brain injury? Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when the brain is damaged. Damage to the brain can occur in many ways, both accidental and from abuse.
While an injury to the head can cause TBI (traumatic brain injury), not all head injuries are traumatic brain injury. TBI is an acquired brain injury. In days gone by, children were believed to have less incidents of traumatic brain injury. These days the medical community knows this is not true. Children with traumatic brain injuries are harder to diagnose because the symptoms of TBI are harder to define in children.
In some cases, the symptoms of traumatic brain injury do not manifest until the child is older. One of the symptoms, speech problems, cannot be determined until the child is old enough to speak. If the child's speech is delayed or confused, the brain injury can be identified, but if the child cannot speak yet, a determination cannot be made.
Frontal lobe functions do not develop in the human brain until late in childhood. So if damage was done to this part of the child's brain, it may not be realized until the child is older. The frontal lobe of the brain determines and controls our social skills and interpersonal behaviors. So if a child has problems socially and behaviorally later in childhood, traumatic brain injury may be the cause. Likewise, if the reading and writing areas of the brain have been damaged, the damage may not be noticed until the child reaches the stage of development when they are expected to be able to read and write.
One important concept to remember is that bleeding in the brain can cause extreme pressure in the brain over hours. This pressure can be fatal. So if a child has had a blow to the head, been shaken, or been in a vehicle accident, it is important to watch that child for signs of lethargy or unconsciousness, because if the pressure in the brain becomes too sever, the child may die.
A child continues in frontal lobe development up until the age of about 16 years old. A child with traumatic brain injury can be expected to have trouble learning in one or more areas, or behavioral problems throughout their educational career.
Because traumatic brain injury damage may not be discovered until a child is older, it is important for parents to know the rights their children have in school and society. Children's right to an education is protected under Federal law 94-142. This law protects the emotionally disturbed and learning disabled from discrimination and guarantees that they receive an education. Special classes and help can be provided for these children depending on their individual needs.