Head and Brain Injuries in Children

David HuffMany of you have probably seen the highlights about David Huff; he is a pitcher on the Cleveland Indians, who got hit directly in the head by a line drive from Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez a few months ago (http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/news/story?id=5232792). Luckily, Mr. Huff was not seriously injured from this. However, many children are not as lucky and sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) each year. Current estimates indicate that approximately 180 out of 100,000 children will attain a TBI during their lifetimes.

 Causes of Brain Injuries in Children:

The causes of brain injury in children and adolescents are variable. The majority of brain injuries are caused by vehicular accidents. It has been estimated that close to 80% of all brain related injuries are directly attributable to either a car or bicycle related accident. As one might expect, the causes of brain injuries vary by age. Young children are more likely to sustain a TBI from falls, elementary age children are more likely to attain one from a sports related injury, and adolescents are more likely to attain them from vehicle accidents. Brain injury is an important topic that needs to be addressed. It is the leading cause of death amongst children and adolescents.

Side Effects of Brain Injuries:

Although the majority of children who sustain a TBI do live, there are often lasting, life-long side effects from the injuries. These life-long side effects are variable and are dependent upon where the actual brain injury occurred. It is strongly recommended that anyone who sustains a brain injury partake in a neuropsychological evaluation shortly after the injury and then also a year out. This way one would be able to attain a baseline measurement of the child’s functioning in the various domains assessed by a neuropsychological evaluation (cognitive ability, academic achievement, visual-motor functioning, attention, executive functioning, memory, language functioning, and social/emotional functioning).

There is a great need for more research and pressure from governing bodies to develop ways to either reduce the number of brain injuries in children and adolescents, or at least efforts toward decreasing the severity of the injuries.

3 replies
  1. maureen evans
    maureen evans says:

    It was in the news just this week, that kids playing high school football sustain more hits to their heads in practice than professional players!! The helmets help, but the hits are causing damage and you are right, more research needs to be done, but I suspect there are many more sports related brain injuries than we realize!!

  2. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    I agree Maureen. Recently, high schools have taken a more serious action on preventing TBI’s and educating the kids on how to protect themselves. Working as a student athletic training aid for 5 years, I realized that a lot of football coaches focus on correct hitting and proper body mechanics to prevent any serious injuries.

    Dr. Stasi- I like your idea of getting a neuropsychological evalaution following a possible TBI and following up with another evaluations a year later. So many kids may think that their injury was not serious, but taking this extra step will help to ensure that nothing was missed. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Greg Stasi
    Greg Stasi says:

    Maureen and Amanda,

    Thank you for your comments and insight. Concussions and sports related injuries are all over the media these days; especially with the NFL’s new rules on dealing with concussions. Any NFL player who sustains a concussion in a game has to now have clearance from an outside practitioner as being eligible to play versus in the past in which it was up to the team and the player to determine if he could play.



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