Kids are told to shake it off. We hear it all the time. Kids are resilient. It’s no big deal. That’s what we hear on and off the field. So, when you see more and more news articles with titles such as, “Mild Bump to Head Increases Risk of Psychiatric Problems and Early Death,” you sit up and take notice. What is becoming more and more evident is that mild traumatic brain injury, or commonly referred to as concussion, is anything but “mild.”The article referenced above was a news piece reporting on a research study that followed over 1 million Swedish children who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the majority of which were diagnosed as mild, from birth up to age 25 and were then followed for up to 41 years. The researchers found that children and adolescents who suffer a mild TBI have an elevated risk of developing a wide range of medical and social problems during adulthood.
According to the World Health Organization, TBI is the leading cause of death and disability in individuals below the age of 45. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occurred in the United States.
In 2012, an estimated 329,290 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in emergency departments for injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or mild TBI. With the staggering number of children and adolescents suffering a TBI, researchers set out to determine the long-term effects of suffering a mild TBI in childhood and adolescence.
The research study examined six medical and social outcomes - premature mortality or death, psychiatric inpatient admission, psychiatric outpatient visits, disability pension (receiving disability pension due to permanent work incapacity), welfare recipiency (receiving welfare benefits), and low educational attainment (meaning highest achieved attainment did not meet secondary school qualifications). The research team compared the TBI patients with their unaffected siblings to rule out the possibility of outcomes that ran in families due to genetics and upbringing. Prior studies had shown that TBI in children contributed to poor measures of emotional perception, social interaction, employment, and quality of life.
Can TBI In Young Patients Lead To Problems Later On In Life?
But the researchers wanted to test a broader set of medical and social functioning outcomes. They found that TBI, including mild TBI, consistently predicted a later risk for all six adverse outcomes. The study found, “the highest relative risks…were found for psychiatric inpatient hospitalization, disability pension, and premature mortality.”
The researchers noted that most children with TBI do not receive long-term follow-up care. They think this should change. They suggest children and adolescents who suffer a TBI should receive routine follow-up medical care to recognize the subtle but important neurological, cognitive, and psychiatric consequences of TBI. This way, medical providers can better identify those children who face an altered developmental and educational trajectory and initiate appropriate interventions.
If you have a child who has experienced a concussion from a car accident, a bike crash, a fall, or any other event caused by the negligence of someone else, you should discuss the circumstances with an experienced brain injury attorney. We welcome the opportunity to answer your questions and give you guidance on what can be done to help your child. Just call us at 727-446-0840. There is never a charge to talk about your situation and our clients will never be asked to write us a check for our fees or costs. Should you have a case which we successfully settle, we are paid a percentage of the recovery. Period.