Annually, children age 16 years and younger account for half a million emergency department visits for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Several factors such as the patient’s age at the time of the occurrence, severity, comorbidities, and timely access to quality care can drastically affect the short-term and long-term effects of pediatric TBIs and mild concussions. While prognoses can be highly variable, research published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation shows that these key factors have been shown to help kids recover both medically and socially:
- Educating healthcare providers, parents, and teachers about the importance of prompt TBI care at the time of the injury.
- Parents should be encouraged to establish a positive family dynamic, attend all medical follow up, and communicate with schools.
- Medical professionals should provide parents with clear documentation of their child’s diagnosis that informs them of any recommendations as well as possible complications their child may experience. They should be instructed to report these documents to their child’s school. Neuropsychologists are uniquely equipped to spearhead the child’s recovery.
- All children with mild to moderate TBI should receive an evaluation to determine if they would benefit from rehabilitation services, and if so, to what extent.
- Neuropsychological testing is encouraged to characterize the changes that may have occurred and describe how they will affect real world functioning. From here, more recommendations for treatment planning will be established with the child, family, and school.
- Bridging the gap between healthcare and educational care is often overlooked, but the transition back to school can be a very difficult experience for TBI patients. If needed, students should take advantage of specialized support services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, vestibular therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, and medical adjustment counseling(MAC).
- Students should be gradually reintroduced into their school work and routine. 504 plan most likely will be needed.
- The utilization of child-validated symptom rating scales to target concerns and improve patient care.
Dr. Greco has been serving children in Monmouth and Ocean counties for nearly twenty years. If your child incurred a concussion and assistance is needed, please call our office as soon as possible. Timing is key after a concussion.
Steven P. Greco, PhD, ABN
Board Certified Neuropsychology
Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology/Psychiatry
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Seton Hall-Hackensack Medical School