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Residual Effects of Brain Injuries On Children

A recent study performed by Australian researchers reveals that a majority of children who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) clinically present with residual effects for years and require rehabilitation for a protracted period of time as a result. While performing the study, the researchers monitored the children’s intellectual abilities as well as their social and behavioral skills.


Signs of TBI can vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Symptoms can include physical disabilities such as difficulty with speech, seeing, hearing and using other senses. A child with a TBI may also incur short-term and long-term memory problems, difficulty with concentration, changes in mood, anxiety, and depression.

Take Sam for example. Sam was a typical 13 year old teenage boy riding his motocross bike when he wrecked and slammed his head into the ground. Sam returned to school three months after the accident and underwent two years of rehabilitation. Sam still clinically presents with short-term memory problems.

Another example is Susan. Susan was 7 years old when, she was struck by a car while operating her bicycle. Susan broke her arm and hit her head resulting in the diagnosis of a TBI. When Susan returned home, she looked fine. However, appearances are deceiving. Susan takes longer to perform simple tasks. She has experienced issues with her memory and has difficulty reading.

Vicki Anderson, a researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the study’s lead author states “and while there was some ‘spontaneous’ recovery, those who had access to rehab did better and continued to improve for years.”

Mandeep Tamber, an assistant professor of pediatric Neurosurgery at the University School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has indicated that parents of children with a TBI need to realize their children may require long-term rehabilitation in order to help the brain to continue to rewire and help the child to come up with strategies to compensate for lasting issues like short-term memory problems.

Educating a child with a TBI can be especially difficult and requires participation from both the parents and the school system.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines traumatic brain injury as…

“…an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language, memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psycho-social behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenial or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.” [34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.8(c)(12)]

A child with a TBI may need to be tested to determine if he or she will require special education classes or other accommodations to make it through school. The nation’s special education law, IDEA, requires that all children suspected of having a disability be evaluated without cost to the parents to determine if the child has a disability and needs special services under IDEA. Services under IDEA include early intervention for infants and toddlers under three years old with disabilities and special education and related services for pre-school and school-aged children.

Parent and teachers, working together, need to plan for the child’s return to school and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that addresses the child’s educational needs. The IEP should be flexible and adjusted as the child’s needs are further discovered or change.

– Lisa Heyveld and Matthew A. Dolman

Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is a Florida Personal Injury Attorney and civil trial lawyer who limits his practice to first and third party claims relating to an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, TBI, insurance carrier bad faith, catastrophic injury and wrongful death.

Dolman Law Group is a personal injury and civil trial law firm based in Clearwater, Florida. Located in central Pinellas County (ten minutes from St. Petersburg), the attorneys at Dolman Law Group represent only consumers and never will or have ever represented an insurance carrier. We routinely litigate personal injury claims throughout the State of Florida and actively represent plaintiffs in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota and Polk County. Dolman Law Group serves the following cities; Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Ozona, Tarpon Springs, Tampa, Carrolwood, New Tampa, Oldsmar, Trinity, New Port Richey, Bradenton and Sarasota.