Traumatic Brain Injury In Children

Understanding traumatic brain injury in children and its potential effects on a young person, especially at school, is critical. This applies, in particular, to a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. Many believe these milder forms of brain injury are relatively benign, and will have little long term effect on the young person's functioning, at home and/or at school.  They assume the young person will return to pre-injury levels of functioning both at home, and at school, and in other areas of their lives, in a relatively short period of time. 

This is not always the case. Many young people who suffer a mild TBI or concussion will show long term negative effects. These can contribute to difficulties learning at school, and achieving the same academic success that characterized their preinjury academic functioning. This can be true even when brain imaging  shows no sign of a brain injury. Brain imaging techniques do not always  reveal the varied and complex injuries  that  can occur as the result of a mild TBI or concussion, and that can contribute to learning problems in young people. 

In addition, our understanding of traumatic brain injury in children, especially a mild TBI or concussion is limited. Most studies of traumatic brain injury  have been done on adults. Research, although sparse, suggests that the outcome of a brain injury may be worse in children, than adults, due to the developing nature of the immature brain. Young people who have suffered a concussion or mild TBI  may show problems with memory, processing speed and abstract reasoning, as well as a range of other neuropsychological processing concerns.  

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury in Children

Our understanding of traumatic brain injury, and its potential effects on  young people, and their school functioning is limited. Again this applies, in particular, to mild TBI or a concussion.

Young people spend most of their waking day at school. To succeed at school they must perform successfully across a number of developmental domains. These include the social, emotional, and behavioral domains, as well as the cognitive/academic domains. They must perform as independently and age appropriately as possible, and to the fullest extent of their capabilities.

Understanding both the short term and long term effects of traumatic brain injury in children, including mild TBI, or a concussion, is critical. Parents or educators who lack this understanding will fail to recognize that any academic struggle young people show following a mild TBI or concussion, may reflect the brain injury they suffered. They may require academic supports to assist with the academic program. If the parents and/or educators fail to recognize this, these injured young persons may miss out on much needed support.

How to Help

Should you notice that a child is experiencing increased or atypical difficulties in school following a brain injury, including a mild TBI or concussion, a school neuropsychological assessment can help.

Understanding traumatic brain injury and its effects on a child or adolescent's school functioning  is critical. A school neuropsychological assessment increases understanding of how a brain injury has impacted on a child's functioning at school, and provides evidence based solutions to address these concerns.

Click here, to learn more about a school neuropsychological evaluation and how it can help, when  a child has suffered a brain injury and is showing  atypical behavioral, social and emotional concerns.

Psychologists who practice in school neuropsychology must have competency-based training. School Neuropsychology is the application of brain-based principles to education. It is not dependent on how to administer a set of tests (e.g. a 3 hour workshop on how to administer the Nepsy -II). The tests are only tools to help test hypotheses and provide samples of behaviour in controlled settings. Competence in school psychology requires doctoral training in school or pediatric neuropsychology, or the completion of a competency-based post-graduate training program with clinical supervision in school neuropsychology.

Contact Dr. O'Connor about the School Neuropsychological Testing services she offers to help children and adolescents with  neuropsychological issues and concerns.


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