Understanding Pediatric Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are life-altering for adults and children alike, but they affect children differently. It’s important for parents to understand how these injuries impact children later in life. Symptomatically, brain injuries in children are similar to those in adults, but they can have a more significant long-term impact on children due to their level of development.
Unlike adults, children are not yet fully developed physically or mentally. This reduced physical development also applies to the brain. Previous misconceptions claimed that children were less vulnerable to brain injuries because of the plasticity of their brains. However, recent studies have disproven this myth. In fact, brain injuries can be more harmful to children than adults in several ways.
Latent Effects of Pediatric Brain Injuries
Initially following a brain injury, children may not always display obvious symptoms. But the damage may become more apparent as the child grows. Parents may notice that a child experiences social and cognitive difficulties as he or she gets older. These residual side effects can lead to lifelong impairments and challenges for not only the affected child but also his or her family.
Ultimately, there are symptoms that children may experience following one or multiple concussions, including mental to physical difficulties that may range from mild to debilitating.
Symptoms of Concussion in Children
Parents will need to be observant to catch symptoms of concussion in younger children since young children are often unable to articulate how they feel if something is wrong.
Some symptoms that young children may exhibit following a concussion could include:
- Irritability and crankiness
- Increased fatigue and listlessness
- Changes in behavior and habits, including eating, sleeping, playing, and the way they act or perform in school
- Loss of balance when walking
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Confusion or frequent distractions
Other symptoms in young children include staring blankly, loss of newly learned skills, slurred speech, slower response times, and uncoordinated walking or general clumsiness. Memory loss and loss of consciousness may also take place.
If a child’s behavior seems suddenly or gradually unusual or out of character or other worrying physical symptoms develop, this could be indicative of a serious problem. These changes warrant contacting a doctor or EMT for treatment as soon as possible.
Concussion Symptoms in Infants and Toddlers
Infants or toddlers may also develop symptoms of concussion. In newborns, these signs could indicate that they were injured at birth. If parents notice any of the previously mentioned symptoms or others, such as not eating and an inability to calm the child, the opinion of a medical professional should be sought after.
Treating Children Following a Concussion
If a child has sustained a concussion, there are ways to help him or her heal to prevent serious injuries from developing. Making sure the child gets sufficient sleep, avoids activities that could aggravate the condition or result in another concussion, and takes medications only that their pediatrician has approved can help improve conditions for him or her.
Understanding pediatric injuries, including brain injuries, can help keep parents and caretakers aware and allow them to prevent further impairment early on.