It is commonly thought that children show rapid improvement after a traumatic brain injury because of either increased neuroplasticity or the ability for young brains to re-organize after injury. However, research that supports this notion has often been limited to cognitive and motor skills.
A recent study took a broader view of recovery after pediatric TBI. They found that when TBI occurs in younger (under age 4) preschoolers, they have social impairments that persist until at least age 8. These impairments are greater than if the TBI occurred between ages 4-6, implying that a critical time for social development is being disrupted in the younger preschoolers.
The long-term implications of this research have yet to be fully investigated, but parents and clinicians should be aware that children who suffer from TBI as a younger preschooler may have poorer social outcomes in later years.
Sonnenberg LK, Dupuis A, & Rumney PG. Pre-school traumatic brain injury and its impact on social development at 8 years of age. Brain Injury. (July 2010).