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The Management of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children: Opportunities for Action


TBI affects children differently than adults. An injury of any severity to the developing brain can disrupt a child’s developmental trajectory and may result in restrictions in school and participation in activities (e.g., sports). As a result of TBI, children can experience changes in their health, thinking, and behavior that affect learning, self-regulation, and social participation, all of which are important in becoming productive adults. Although most children recover well physically, they often experience changes in behavior and cognition that are not recognized immediately. Some of these post-TBI health problems emerge over time and are associated with significant financial and social challenges for adults having sustained a TBI as a child. Unlike other developmental health conditions in children that are diagnosed at birth, TBI is an acquired condition that can occur anytime during childhood with potential for a sudden alteration in development. The management of TBI in children is complex and depends upon multiple service delivery systems that frequently do not provide systematic or coordinated care to ensure an optimal recovery. However, due to the lack of robust scientific evidence identifying optimal pathways to recovery, current management is too often based on clinical practice experience rather than research.

This report describes the public health burden of TBI in children and adolescents, including the range of outcomes that may be experienced following a TBI. In addition, the report lays out the current systems involved in the management of children with TBI, identifies gaps that exist, and outlines some practices that hold promise in addressing those gaps. Finally, opportunities for action are offered that suggest ways to improve TBI care in children, and how we might advance our understanding of TBI care in the future.

Source: Center for disease control and prevention (2018). The Management of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children: Opportunities for Action.