Research published in PLOS Medicine has shown that children who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI), including mild concussion, are more likely to encounter health and social problems in later life.
The study examined outcomes for over a million children diagnosed with TBI, and compared their psychological, social, and educational functioning with that of their unaffected siblings. The findings show a significant association between childhood TBI and low educational achievement, high uptake of disability pension, and risk of psychiatric hospitalisation.
Seena Fazel, co-author of the study, has commented on the importance of preventing childhood TBI with the use of helmets in contact sports, or by reconsidering the materials used on the surfaces of school playgrounds. It is also advised that parents should seek medical advice if their child receives any substantial blow to the head.
Mr LJ Conradie, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist at Psicon, said, “I cannot stress the importance of prevention enough. All parents should be aware that even minor traumatic head injuries can have long-term health consequences. We should not see any child (or adult for that matter) cycling without a helmet, and parents should ensure that their children wear the right gear, fitted correctly, when they participate in contact sports.”
Mr Conradie added that while many children with a concussion or mild TBI make a good recovery without any long-term complications, for those that do not, the effects can be severe and long-lasting. “Consequences will commonly affect not only the child themselves but also their whole family, while jeopardising anything from the child’s academic progress to their social relationships, and in some cases even their ability to live an independent life.”