Pediatric TBI: Will it Affect Your Child Later in Life?

First Posted: Sep 26, 2013 12:49 PM EDT

A traumatic brain injury experienced during your child's youth can dramatically alter his or her long-term cognitive abilities and psychological functioning, often times resulting in poor academic achievement, according to a recent study. 

In fact, lead study author Amery Treble of the University of Houston Texas notes that pediatric TBI can dramatically disrupt working memory.

Background information from the study notes that working memory is the brain's ability to collect, retain and use information that's needed in order to perform tasks and respond to immediate demands. Co-authors from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston worked to use brain imaging studies that measured verbal and visuospatial working memory via a group of children that sustained a TBI and a control group that did not. The comparisons showed that children who had experienced this problem demonstrated poorer visuospatial skills and working memory that's often associated with disruptions found in brain connectivity between neural networks that underlie working memory.

Through the study, the authors propose that the identification of neruoanatomical biomakers may be indicative of changes found in the brain's microstructure that could allow for early identification of children who may be at an increased risk for imparied working memory and for earlier intervention.

"While confirming the longstanding belief that the corpus callosum is consistently involved with traumatic brain, this study's exquisite regionally specific analyses of callosal integrity, together with its evaluation of working memory in a pediatric brain-injured population, make this a particularly important contribution to the field of pediatric TBI," John T. Poylishock, PhD, said, via a press release.

While immediate effects of brain injuries may show in the sign of lasting injuries, attention span or other problems, long-term effects are often overlooked during developmental stages due to the erroneous belief that a child who "looks okay" must "be okay." Therefore, if an educational, behavioral or social problem emerges several years following the injury, a link between the injury and any observed problems is rarely made, according to the American Speech Language Association (ASHA.)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also writes that every year, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries.

Has your child experienced a brain injury and how has it affected them over time?

More information regarding the study can be found via the Journal of Neurotrauma.

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