Head Injuries in Kids: 7 Facts Parents Need to Know
Tumbling off a bike, tripping while running in the house, or getting a kick in the head while playing soccer—getting hurt is part of growing up. However, suffering a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) from such head trauma is becoming more common. In fact, from 2010-2015, concussion diagnoses among tweens and teens ages 10-19 skyrocketed 71 percent. These seemingly mild head injuries can be devastating in ways you might not imagine, with consequences that can extend far beyond the initial blow to cause a lasting negative impact on a child’s life.
Take Joey, for example. He fell down a flight of stairs at age three. Even though he was unconscious for only a few minutes and was given a diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), there was nothing mild about the enduring effect the injury had on his life. By the time he was 15, he had been kicked out of his third residential treatment program for violence. Neither medication nor behavioral therapy was the answer—Joey needed a brain rehabilitation program.
If your child has suffered a head injury, here are 7 things you need to know:
Fact #1. TBI’s can impact cognitive function.
Head trauma can affect a child’s cognitive skills, causing problems with learning, attention and concentration, planning, problem-solving, memory, communication, and more. These are the fundamental building blocks of education and can set a child up for trouble in school.
Fact #2. Head injuries increase the risk of mental illness.
A concussion or TBI as a child increases the likelihood of developing mental health conditions, but few healthcare professionals know it. TBI is associated with a rise in:
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Borderline and antisocial personality disorders
Fact #3. Head trauma increases the risk of incarceration.
In a review of studies involving juvenile offenders, researchers found that about 30% of them had suffered a past TBI. Their findings suggest that juvenile offenders are significantly more likely to have a TBI compared to the general population.
Fact #4. Head injuries can disrupt healthy hormone production.
TBIs, especially those from whiplash injuries, can damage the pituitary gland, which plays a vital role in the regulation and production of the body’s hormones. This can lead to hormonal dysfunction, which can negatively impact neurotransmitter production and raises the risk of experiencing symptoms of mental illness.
Fact #5. TBI’s can happen at home or on the playing field.
You may think TBIs only happen in major car accidents, but new research shows that sports and recreational activities and everyday consumer products account for 72% of children’s emergency room visits for a TBI-related injury. According to the 2019 study in the journal Brain, sports and recreational activities (especially football, biking, and basketball) account for 28.8% of head injuries, home furnishings (primarily beds) and fixtures are linked to 17.2%, residential structures and construction materials are responsible for 17.1%, child nursery equipment is tied to 2.7%, and toys make up 2.4%.
Fact #6. Functional brain imaging tests can reveal damage from past head injuries.
Following a TBI, brain imaging tests that show the brain’s structure, such as MRI, may not indicate any damage to the anatomy of the brain. However, functional brain scans, such as brain SPECT imaging, can reveal areas of the brain with abnormal activity due to past trauma. When a person who is experiencing symptoms of a psychiatric disorder has a brain scan that reveals signs of a TBI, it helps them get a more accurate diagnosis. For people with a past head injury, treating only the psychiatric symptoms often doesn’t work. They also need treatment to help balance underlying brain activity.
For many people, seeing their brain scan serves as a reminder of past head trauma they had forgotten. That’s what happened to controversial YouTube star Logan Paul, who is well-known for taking wild risks and performing dangerous stunts. He wanted to get a brain scan to find out why he makes so many bad decisions, why he lacks empathy, and why he is incapable of maintaining a committed relationship. When he looked at his brain scan, it jogged his memory of playing tackle football in high school where he was “always getting hit in the head.” Those blows to the head likely played a part in the issues he was having.
Fact #7. Healing the brain can help soothe symptoms.
Therapies that help heal abnormal brain activity due to TBI include hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and neurofeedback. HBOT speeds healing and boosts cognitive and emotional functioning. Neurofeedback is a non-invasive strategy that has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, attention problems, and more. Eating a brain-healthy diet and taking targeted nutritional supplements can also contribute to more balanced brain activity.
At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of children and adults with concussions or TBIs to heal their brain and minimize their symptoms. We use a combination of the least toxic, most effective therapies, which may include neurofeedback, HBOT, nutraceuticals, and medications, as well as simple lifestyle changes that can make a big difference.
If your child has suffered a concussion or head injury, find out how we can help. Talk to a specialist today by calling 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.