Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury In Children

Understanding traumatic brain injury and its potential effects on a child, especially at school, is critical. This applies, in particular, to a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. Many of us believe that these milder forms of brain injury are relatively benign, and will have little long term effect on the child's functioning, including their ability to learn and function to pre-injury levels at school, and in other areas of their everyday lives. 

But this is not always the case. Many children who have suffered  a mild TBI or concussion will show long term negative effects. These can contribute to difficulties learning at school, and achieving the same levels academically that characterized their pre-injury academic functioning. This can be true even when brain imaging results fail to reveal any sign of a brain injury. Brain injury techniques may not always  reveal the varied injuries  that  can occur as the result of a mild TBI or concussion, and that will cause problems for a child at school.

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 for children, than adults, due to the developing nature of the immature brain.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury & School Functioning

In addition, understanding traumatic brain injury, and its potential effects on a child or adolescent, and his/her school functioning is limited and rarely addressed. Again this applies, in particular, to mild TBI or concussion.

Yet, the child spends most of his waking day at school. It is the environment where he/she must perform successfully across a range of developmental domains. These include the social, emotional, and behavioral domains, as well as the cognitive and academic areas. He must perform as independently and age appropriately as possible, and to the fullest extent of his capabilities.

Otherwise, the child or adolescent will not only have difficulty achieving to his potential at school, but moving  toward positive outcomes  as an adult.

Understanding traumatic brain injury, especially, mild TBI, in the short term, and more importantly the potential long term effects of a mild TBI or concussion on the child's academic functioning is important. Otherwise we may fail to realize that a child's recent, or increased struggle in school, is either exacerbated by or the result of the brain injury.  And the child will fail to receive the support he/she needs to achieve to his potential at school  

Regardless of the of injury level, the ability to cope successfully at  school is one of the biggest challenges the brain injured child, adolescent or young adult will face.

Young survivors of traumatic brain injury report that school problems, following a brain injury are more challenging than any residual physical deficits.

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.