What should I know about children and traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Children's developing brains can be even more susceptible to the injuries caused by concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which is why it's SO important to protect them.  Consequences of TBI in kids can range from mild and temporary (headache, foggy thinking, nausea, memory difficulties) to fatal brain swelling.  
What I always tell my patients (and their parents) when they come in with a concussion is that it is a "brain injury," and --like you would for any other injury in your body--it needs time to rest and heal.  Otherwise, each successive concussion increases your chances for another one, and these effects accumulate over time.  Also, a second injury before the brain has healed can possibly result in a fatal condition known as "Second Impact Syndrome."  
Keep in mind that in children, symptoms of a concussion may be harder to decipher.  I always get concerned when I hear a Mom or Dad simply say "He's just not behaving right."  Other symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, sluggish behavior or confusion, mood changes (ie: a normally stoic child crying or laughing excessively), or pain with loud noises or bright lights.  
If you feel that your child has any of the above symptoms, then you should have your child checked out by their doctor.  They'll give you information on what to avoid (physical activity, bright lights, cell phone/texting/video gaming use), and how to know when they're starting to improve. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.