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Unstrange Phenomena

23 April 2009

Brain: What Are the Long Term Effects of Brain Injury in Children?

A diagram of the forces on the brain in concussionImage via Wikipedia

Since the onset of the Iraq War we have been hearing a lot in the news about TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury. Soldiers and combat reporters have told their similar stories again and again.

Brain Injury in Children

Did you know that half a million school children experience at least mildly traumatic brain injuries every year in America? Until a recent study little was known about the long term effects of traumatic brain injuries for children.

This new study was done at Ohio State University at Columbus and published by Keith Yeates, Ph.D. in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Pediatrics in Review."

Post-Concussive Syndrome

Researchers term it Post-concussive Syndrome. Several areas are affected such as emotional, cognitive (thinking ability) and somatic (medical code word for what affects only the body as separate from the mind).

Symptoms of Post-Concussive Syndrome

What are the symptoms to look for? Here’s a rundown of the list:

• being tired
• headaches
• memory difficulties
• light sensitivity
• feeling dizzy
irritability (crankiness)
• attention problems
• depression or sad mood
• difficulty concentrating/thinking
• vision problems
• noise sensitivity
difficulty sleeping
anhedonia (lack of interest in pleasurable activities)
• change in personality

About the Year Long Study

It was a 12 month study of long term effects that followed 189 school age children who had experienced TBI. The second group they followed was 99 school age children who had not experienced brain injury but orthopedic injuries.

Researchers' Findings

What did they find? Among the TBI group it was amazing that 64% did not experience any post-concussive symptoms at all. From two weeks up to a year later, 12% experienced moderate symptoms. Severe symptoms were experienced by 15% two weeks after the injury but did manage to resolve within the year. Severe symptoms experienced two weeks from the injury that did not resolve and continued a year later were 9%.

What happened with the non-brain orthopedic injury group? Their results were quite different. 79% of the children did not experience any post-concussive symptoms whatsoever at any time. 15% did experience moderate symptoms two weeks after the injury and up to a year later. Severe symptoms were experienced by 5% two weeks after the injury that did resolve by a year. Only 1% of the children experienced severe symptoms two weeks after the injury that did not resolve 12 months later.

Study's Conclusions

Previous to the findings in this study it was thought that the effects of the mild traumatic brain injury effects in children subsided within three months.

The study’s conclusion was that following the injury severe symptoms were most likely experienced by the TBI children. It was also the TBI children, 37% of them, who would continue to experience post-concussive symptoms 12 months later. If there were no other symptoms accompanying amnesia and disorientation immediately after a TBI, then it was considered a very good sign of a positive outcome a year later.

Study's citation, go here.

Written by Denny Lyon

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