Preparing for Children with Special Needs – Traumatic Brain Injury

image of child at doctor's office

Written by: Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Extension Specialist – Special Populations, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Did you know that March in TBI Awareness Month? 

Defining Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when there is sudden trauma to the brain (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [NINDS], n.d.).  This can be a result of the head suddenly and violently hitting an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue (NINDS, n.d.).

Mild TBI can cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells, and more serious TBI can result in physical damage to the brain that can result in long term complications or death (Mayo Clinic, 2014). There are many different names for TBI such as concussion, Shaken Baby Syndrome, head injury, or anoxia (loss of oxygen) due to trauma. Data from research shows that up to 1.56 million TBIs can be sustained in one year.

If a person suspects a brain injury it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Common causes of TBI include falls, vehicle collisions, violence, sports injuries, and explosive blasts and other combat injuries (Mayo Clinic. 2014).  With any level of severity, the patient can have temporary or permanent impairment of cognitive skills, interference with emotional abilities, and diminished physical abilities (Brain Injury Association of America, 2015). Please note that brain injuries may be ‘silent’. Symptoms or issues may not arise until the child reaches a certain developmental stage.

Treatment

Once a brain injury has occurred, little can be done to reverse the initial damage, but medical personnel can work to stabilize a person to prevent further injuries (NINDS, n.d.). More severe brain injuries may need more involved treatment.  Those who have had significant brain injury will require rehabilitation to relearn skills (Mayo Clinic, 2015).

Managing TBI

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