Traumatic brain injury
(TBI) is a pervasive problem among children and adolescents, with approximately
1 in 30 experiencing a TBI by age 16. Pediatric TBI is associated with
a variety of long-term physical, behavioral, and cognitive complications.
Delays in skills acquisition and peer interaction may cause children with
TBI to fall behind, as compared to their friends and schoolmates.
A recent study in Australia examined the interaction of pediatric health-related
quality of life, severity of TBI, and time elapsed since TBI. The research
team collected information regarding children’s physical, psychological,
and neurological functioning along with assessments of their TBI at regular
intervals after the brain injury.
In general, children with mild TBI showed more physical pain and poorer
behavior than those with more severe injury, although these problems tended
to resolve by six months after TBI. On the other hand, children with moderate-
to severe-TBI reported significantly worse physical limitations, although
problems tended to resolve by 6 months post-injury. By 18 months, the
difference between groups disappeared. Children with TBI of any severity
showed significantly more emotional and behavioral problems than their
peers across all time periods. Parents reported limitations to activities
that were consistent with this trajectory.
The results of this study suggest that all children with TBI, even those
with mild TBI, could be assisted with emotional and psychological support
to improve quality of life. Further, parents would also benefit from support
to help manage their children’s emotions and provide a level of
activity to improve quality of life for the family.
Brown EA, Kenardy J, Chandler B, et al. Parent-reported health-related
quality of life in children with traumatic brain injury: A prospective
study. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. (March 2016.)