In the highly supportive environment of early childhood, children with traumatic brain injury do not show evidence of significant friendship problems. However, as children age, relationships become more complex, and children with TBI become more vulnerable to social isolation and poor peer interactions.
Children with traumatic brain injury often show cognitive deficits related to emotional recognition and social problem solving. This can have negative impact on social functioning. A recent study on children ages 7-14 found that, while 75% of the control group reported 4 or more friends, only 39% with mild, 20% with moderate, and 14% of children with severe TBI had the same number. Researchers also found that children with severe TBI had difficulty managing conflict and less intimacy in their friendships.
Children with TBI have more severe problems with hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders, and emotional problems, which impact their ability to communicate and participate socially. Children with TBI may also be likely to experience loneliness and poor quality of life as a result of their injuries.
Ross, KA, McMillan, T, Kelly, T, Sumpter, R, and Dorris, L. Friendship, loneliness, and psychosocial functioning in children with traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury. (November 2011).