Health-Related Quality of Life in Children with Traumatic Brain Injury

Kids Moving Around Living Room with Caregiver Sitting on Couch
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.)
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