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Brain Injury in Children: Get the Facts

There are signiificant consequences to Infants, children and teenagers  following a traumatic brain injury or traumatic head injury, whether mild, moderate or severe, with or without loss of consciousness that can have a significant impact on the quality of the rest of their life.

Brain injury in children must always be taken seriously

Michael Kaplen at bicycle helmet safety program with New York State Assembly member, Ivan Lafayette.

The American Academy of Brain Injury understands that a brain or head injury to a child should always be treated seriously.  The common assumption that a child’s brain heals faster or quicker than the adult brain is simply false.

Following a car accident, bus accident, truck or train accident or a fall, any child who has sustained head trauma must be carefully evaluated over time for the pervasive long term cognitive and behavioral effects that may occur.

After many years of representing children who have sustained traumatic brain injury, brain injury academy members have become increasingly frustrated by insurance companies, defense lawyers and the educational system that often condemns children and teenagers to a life time of suffering because of a lack of understanding of childhood brain injury.  The brain damage that is sustained in childhood may last a lifetime.

Don’t sacrifice your child to a lawyer or a law firm that does not understand brain injury.  Retain a qualified brain injury lawyer to protect your child’s rights and your child’s future.

The American Academy of Brain Injury Attorneys presents this information to parents whose child was involved in an accident and is seeking legal assistance in order to properly prepare them and their brain injury lawyer in the proper legal representation of children who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.


  • Feeling tired or listless
  • Being irritable or cranky (will not stop crying or cannot be consoled)
  • Changes in eating (will not eat or nurse)
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in the way the child plays
  • Changes in performance at school
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of a concussion can last for days, weeks, or even years.  When symptoms of a concussion persist, it is commonly referred to as the post concussion syndrome.

The Myth of Plasticity:  A child will not grow out of their brain injury

There is a pervasive myth known as “plasticity,” in which it is claimed that a child’s brain, because it is still not fully developed can recover quicker and easier than an adult’s brain. Uninformed individuals, medical providers and educators, cling to the notion that a child “will grow out” of this injury.  This theory of brain recovery in children has proved to be false and has led to a great deal of further harm to children who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The consequences of brain injury in children may take years to become fully apparent

Children are thought to have fully recovered once their physical symptoms of brain injury, such as headaches, dizziness and lethargy are no longer present.  But, the cognitive, behavioral and emotional problems may last a life time and may not become apparent for years following the initial brain or head trauma.

Because a child’s brain is not fully developed and complex challenges are not expected of children until later in life, functional limitations may not be readily noticeable to parents or teachers.  It is only later when the child is expected to take on more challenging tasks that cognitive difficulties become apparent.

For example, until a child learns to read, reading difficulties will not become apparent.  Similarly, analysis of complex mathematical principles may pose challenges to children who have sustained a traumatic brain injury but will not be diagnosed until the child is called upon to learn these skills.

In thinking of the delay in making a diagnosis of brain injury in a child, consider the following example:

A five foot barrel has a hole at the four foot mark. Looking at the barrel from the bottom up, so long as there is only one foot of water in the barrel, everything looks normal because the barrel is not being challenged.  But, as the water continues to accumulate in the barrel and eventually reaches the four foot mark, the barrel will begin to leak.  It may have taken years for the hole in the barrel or the damage to the brain to become apparent.  It is only when the barrel or the brain is called upon to deal with this accumulation that the problem is recognized.

Even mild brain trauma in children must be taken seriously

Because even mild head trauma can lead to a concussion, all injury to the head and brain must be taken seriously.  A brain injury can occur even without loss of consciousness and may not be accompanied by any apparent physical injury.

Educational Implications of Brain and Head Injury in Children

Despite its high incidence, many medical and educational professionals are unaware of the long term consequences of childhood head injury.  Students with TBI are too often classified as having learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, behavioral problems or even mental retardation.   Unfortunately, as a result, needed educational services and educational rehabilitation is not provided.

Your child is entitled to TBI related services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  TBI is a separate category of disability under IDEA entitling your child to special educational services.

Other myths about brain injury in children

  • Since brain injury is a medical condition, schools and educators need not be concerned about this condition.  FALSE.  Brain injury is not only a medical condition.  It is a condition that seriously affects a child’s ability to learn.  Schools must be prepared to deal with the pervasive effects of traumatic brain injury once the student returns to school.
  • Children will “grow out” of their brain injury.  FALSE.  In fact, as children get older and more increased demands are made on their brains, they grow into their brain injuries which may not at first be apparent.
  • Mild concussions are not a real problem that educators must address.  FALSE.  Mild concussions can cause serious problems with memory, concentration and may be the underlying basis for a child’s behavioral outbursts.  Every concussion must be taken seriously in children.
Michael Kaplen receives the 2011 Public Policy Award at the Brain Injury Association of New York State 2011 Awards Ceremony for his advocacy on behalf of victims of traumatic brain injury

Michael Kaplen receives the 2011 Public Policy Award at the Brain Injury Association of New York State 2011 Awards Ceremony for his advocacy on behalf of victims of traumatic brain injury

The brain injury lawyers who are members of the American Academy of Brain Injury are familiar with the symptoms and consequences of brain injury or head injury in children commonly caused by auto accidents, bus accidents, truck accidents, falls, medical malpractice and other accidents.

Our lawyers with knowledge of pediatric brain trauma can assist and provide legal representation following a traumatic brain injury.

The brain injury lawyers who are members of the American Academy of Brain Injury attorneys represent children who have sustained mild brain injury, moderate brain injury as well as severe brain injury.  We represent children who have sustained a coma, concussion, head trauma, post concussion syndrome, subdural hematoma, epidural hematoma, brain bleeding, skull fracture, traumatic seizure disorder and traumatic epilepsy.

Bicycle Safety

 Children are at particularly high risk for bicycle-related injuries traumatic brain injury.  Head injury is the leading cause of bicycle-related death and using a bicycle helmet is the most effective way to reduce traumatic brain damage and brain injury related fatalities.

A properly fitted bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by 88 percent!

Safety Tip

Child should wear a properly fitted, approved bicycle helmet while bicycle, in-line skating, skiing, riding scooters and skateboarding.  Properly fitted bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury!