The Importance of Protecting Kids and Teens from TBIs

by NPHM | July 20th, 2020

Many types of accidents can cause injuries that have the potential to be disabling and even life-threatening. However, few are as likely to be life-altering as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The effects of TBIs can be profound, causing victims cognitive, physical, and emotional difficulties.

TBIs are serious at any age, but they’re particularly damaging for children and teenagers. The brain undergoes rapid change throughout childhood and adolescence, and brain injuries can disrupt the growth and maturation process in ways that may not be reversible. In addition, young people often struggle to cope with the difficulties associated with TBIs, making them more likely to experience behavioral changes.

How Do Kids and Teens Suffer TBIs?

TBIs typically occur when victims experience blows to the head or when accidents such as collisions cause their brains to move inside their skulls. There are several ways these types of injuries can occur in children and teens, including:

  • Car accidents—Auto accidents are one of the most common causes of TBIs among all age groups, and young people are no exception. In addition to causing impact-related TBIs, auto accidents can also result in non-impact TBIs, where the injuries are caused by sudden and violent movements of the head and neck.
  • Sports injuries—Much of the publicity surrounding TBIs and sports is focused on football. However, children and teens can suffer TBIs in many other sports as well, such as wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, and other contact sports. There’s growing evidence that suggests that even minor blows to the head that don’t result in concussions can result in gradual cognitive decline.
  • Falls—Young children, especially those at or below pre-school age, are most at risk of suffering TBIs by falling. Although children usually don’t suffer serious injuries when they fall, they can incur TBIs when they fall from heights, downstairs, or when they strike their heads on hard objects when they fall.
  • Violence and abuse—Shaken baby syndrome is a common cause of TBIs in infants and babies. Young children are also at risk of TBIs when they’re victims of domestic violence. Older children and teens may be at risk of suffering serious head injuries in fights with other children.

What Difficulties Do Kids and Teens with TBIs Experience?

Childhood and adolescence are times of rapid growth and change. Whether they’re 3 years old or 18 years old, kids who suffer TBIs can experience complications that affect them for the rest of their lives, such as:

  • Cognitive deficits—TBIs can make learning and retaining new information more difficult. While that is a devastating effect at any age, it is even worse for young people still in school who are frequently introduced to new subjects and required to memorize new facts and formulas.
  • Personality changes—It’s common for people who suffer TBIs to experience subtle or even dramatic changes in their personalities. Children who were previously relaxed and kind may become sullen and withdrawn, or they may become much more impulsive, putting themselves and others at risk due to poor judgment caused by their brain injury.
  • Impaired fine motor skills—Because the brain controls so many aspects of the body, children and teens who suffer TBIs may have to re-learn how to do everyday tasks such as walking, dressing themselves, and eating. Even relatively minor TBIs can force teens to start from scratch on things they’ve recently learned, such as driving.
  • Physical pain and discomfort—TBIs don’t just affect victims’ cognition, personality, and coordination—they can also affect their quality of life. Many victims, including young people, experience persistent physical side effects after TBIs, including headaches, tinnitus, nausea, fatigue, excessive sleepiness or insomnia, sensitivity to light and sound, and more. These symptoms make it difficult for young people to focus in school or at work after graduating.

How You Can Protect Your Child from a TBI

Treatments for TBIs show promise, but most people who suffer TBIs take many years to recover. Some never regain all of their lost functionality or recover to the way they were before their injuries. That’s why it’s vital for parents to do everything in their power to protect their kids from suffering TBIs in the first place. That includes taking steps such as:

  • Drive safely—Your child is at highest risk of suffering a TBI when they’re riding in the vehicle with you. In addition to always driving safely, ensure that your child is properly secured for their age and size, whether that means a car seat, a booster, or riding in the back seat—all with seat belts securely fastened.
  • Choose sports carefully—It can be difficult to dissuade a child from playing a particular sport, but certain sports are much more likely to result in TBIs than others, including all sports that involve physical contact. If your child plays a high-risk sport, ensure that they get and use the proper safety equipment at all times.
  • Keep your home free from obstacles—Falls are one of the most common causes of TBIs for kids, and many of those falls occur in the home. Keep your home’s walkways free from clutter and toys, especially on or near stairs. In addition, ensure that outdoor walkways are well-lit and safe, and if you own a swimming pool, never allow your children to enter the pool by diving.

If Your Child Suffered a TBI Because of Others’ Negligence, We’re Here to Help.

The consequences of TBIs can be tragic regardless of age, but their effects are often even more dramatic in children and teens. If your child suffered a TBI due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills and lost wages, and it’s our goal to help you get it.

Contact the Ohio traumatic brain injury lawyers today at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy. We’re ready to put our decades of experience to work for your family.