When a child sustains a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, it is difficult to predict and track outcome because certain deficits may not be recognized until their corresponding developmental milestones have been reached. A long-term health care plan using a consistent team can help to record, recognize, and address potential deficits over time.
Without this consistency and expectation within a health care team, however, deficits can go largely unrecognized and untreated. This can present a challenge to the child and family members, who may struggle with unexplained behavioral or cognitive changes as the child gets older.
A recent study of health care use by children who sustained a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury found that even children with full health benefits did not routinely access either primary or specialty care beyond general pediatric visits. Even though these children had no barriers to a comprehensive, coordinated plan of specialty care, it was often not used. Parents and other caregivers should advocate for both a long-term care plan and a coordinated care team.
Keenan HT, Murphy NA, Staheli R, & Savitz LA. Healthcare utilization in the first year after pediatric traumatic brain injury in an insured population. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (December 2013).