Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children can be difficult to diagnose, and it is even more difficult to predict an outcome. Traditionally, TBI is defined as mild, moderate, or severe by using certain indicators such as the Glasgow Coma Scale or loss of consciousness. Outcomes based on TBI severity can be unpredictable-mild TBI has been known to cause long-term deficits, and more severe TBI can sometimes result in a surprisingly good outcome.
A recent study found that force of impact was a more accurate predictor of outcome than TBI severity. Force of impact was defined as:
• Never sustained an impact with consequences worth considering
• Mild impact (e.g., knocking head against door frame)
• Moderate impact (e.g., knocked by a player's elbow during sports)
• Strong impact (e.g., intentional punch to the head)
• Very strong impact (e.g., forceful collision with a hard surface, such as in a car
Children and parents may have a better memory for concrete examples of the injury, and may be too unfamiliar with clinical terms to accurately describe the event.
Halldorsson JG, Flekkoy KM, Arnkelsson GB, et al. The scope of early traumatic brain injury as a long-term health concern in two nationwide samples: Prevalence and prognostic factors. Brain Injury. (January 2012).