The Ongoing Effects of Severe Pediatric Brain Injury

Brain injuries are a serious concern for individuals of any age, and can be even more severe and life-threatening to children. Pediatric brain injuries can escalate to permanent disability or death.

If you are a parent of a child who suffered a severe pediatric brain injury, you should know what type of long-term, ongoing effects your child might experience for the next few months or even years.

What are the most common types of pediatric brain injuries?

Children are active, energetic, and extremely curious, making injuries common. However, head trauma can be the result of negligence, too. Some of the most common reasons for pediatric brain injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Assault or child abuse

, it is important to ensure an injured child receives the necessary medical attention as soon as possible. The following are a few of the most common types of pediatric brain injuries that result from the above-mentioned accidents:

  • Concussions: Concussions typically occur when a child bumps or hits their head on a hard object. This injury is commonly known as a minor form of brain injury. However, a concussion’s severity can be life-threatening. Concussions frequently occur in sports accidents or slip and fall incidents.
  • Coup-contrecoup brain injuries: A coup-contrecoup brain injury occurs when a child’s head hits a hard object, resulting in injuries on two distinct sides of the brain. The initial injury occurs at the point of impact where the child bumped their head. The second injury occurs as the brain forcefully slams against the opposite side of the skull. Both injuries must be identified for it to be considered a coup-contrecoup brain injury.
  • Contusions: A contusion is characterized as bruises on the brain. This typically occurs at the area of impact, which can lead to swelling or bleeding.
  • Diffuse axonal injuries: Diffuse axonal injuries are one of the most severe brain injuries. These injuries occur when the nerve fibers, known as axons, experience tearing or shearing. Unfortunately, identifying this type of injury can be difficult as it often does not show up on MRI or CT scans, giving rise to various complications.

How is a pediatric brain injury different from an adult brain injury?

Children’s brains are constantly developing; physically maturing into adolescence, and generally finishing maturity around the age of 20. When a child sustains a brain injury – even a “mild” traumatic brain injury, or concussion – it alters the normal course of brain development. Essentially, the trauma disrupts the development of neural networks, and the brain is compelled to “rewire” around the damage. (This ability of the brain to reroute its pathways is known as neuroplasticity.) A positive aspect is that developing brains may find it relatively easier to adapt and rewire in response.

However, this adaptability should not be misconstrued as “healing” in a traditional sense. The truth is that damage to a child’s brain can exacerbate over time, even if the brain reroutes its neural pathways. Severe damage can lead to incomplete developments of a child’s bread, resulting in lifelong negative effects.

The ongoing effects of a severe pediatric brain injury

A study conducted by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center explains that children can experience long-term, lasting effects from a severe pediatric brain injury for about seven years after the initial injury. This is the average number of years; in some cases, it could lead to permanent effects. They include:

  • Thinking and memory problems: One of the most noticeable effects of a severe pediatric brain injury is the child’s ability to think and remember information. This is because children who suffer an injury to their brain may have problems communicating, writing, reading, thinking, remembering, and more. As a result, a child’s cognitive development is delayed, potentially placing them behind other children their age
  • Physical development and capabilities: Physical development and capabilities are another noticeable effect among children with severe pediatric brain injuries. This may include vision issues, balancing problems, inability to walk or crawl, coordination issues, and motor control problems.
  • Emotional issues: Children who have pediatric brain injuries may also have trouble dealing with their emotions. While emotional behaviors are something that a child develops as they mature, this can be difficult for a child with a brain injury. Therefore, a child affected by this type of injury is prone to experiencing emotional challenges, including heightened anger, frequent crying, easy irritability, mood swings, and difficulties in both communication and socialization. Depending on the child’s age, severe anxiety and depression can also arise.
  • Attention disorders: Children who have minor brain injuries are twice as likely to develop attention disorders, causing difficulties focusing and concentrating. Furthermore, if a child has a serious brain injury, per CCHMC, they are “five times more likely to develop secondary ADHD.”

If your child recently suffered a brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation to pay for their medical bills and recovery. The Los Angeles traumatic brain injury attorneys from McNicholas & McNicholas know and understand pediatric brain injuries and can provide the best legal advice based on your case. We can also point you in the right direction to ensure your child receives the top-level medical care they need and deserve. If you believe another person’s negligence caused your child’s pediatric brain injury, please call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free and remote case review today. We look forward to meeting you and legally assisting you through this process.

This blog is not meant to be used as legal advice. Every case has its own unique and different facts and circumstances. Therefore, if you need a lawyer for your case, please reach out to one at your earliest opportunity.