Is a child really “recovered” when they’ve recovered from a brain injury?
But what about the long-term emotional effects? Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in adults has dominated the news cycle, but do children experience similar consequences later in life?
Unfortunately, that may be the case. Read on to learn more.
What Does the Research Say?
According to a recent study from the Monash University School of Psychological Sciences, the effects of brain injury on children may linger longer than previously thought.
Researchers say children can experience mental and emotional issues long after a traumatic brain injury. This especially applies to moderate and severe brain injuries.
To test the hypothesis, researchers did psychological screenings of people who had experienced moderate to severe head trauma as children. They all had experienced the injury 10 or more years prior.
They found that these individuals were five times as likely to have an anxiety disorder than those in the control group, though they had no information on anxiety prior to the injury or whether the individuals lived in anxiety-inducing situations.
What Counts as a Traumatic Brain Injury?
When a hit to the head causes memory loss, fainting, damage to brain tissue, or other kinds of brain issues, it’s considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Either the brain being moved around within the skull, or a sudden impact to the head can result in tissue damage.
There are a variety of causes for brain injuries: falls, violence, or car accidents are some examples. TBI can be a result of a hit to the head or a violent shake, and it varies in severity.
What Causes Long-Term Emotional Problems?
One study at The Ohio State University found that traumatic brain injuries affect immune-brain cells, causing them to become inflamed later in life. The inflammation is linked to depression and anxiety.
These researchers studied how these cells–or microglia–affected mice behavior after a brain injury.
The mice seemed to recover shortly after the brain injury, but then over-responded to stress 30 days later, and showed depressive symptoms. Researchers concluded that brain injuries have a similar effect on humans.
Does this Only Apply to Children?
Adults can experience brain trauma just like children, and they experience the negative short-term effects.
However, a child’s brain is still developing, making trauma to the brain particularly dangerous. Children that recover from brain trauma can experience delayed effects.
What Happens Next?
Taking safety precautions can help children to avoid a brain injury that could seriously harm them later on. Children should wear helmets when riding bikes, wear seat belts in cars, and should always wear safety gear when participating in sports.
If anxiety stemming from a brain injury isn’t treated, it could lead to other serious issues like drug abuse. In those severe cases, treatment centers like the Prescott House Drug Addiction Treatment Center can be helpful.
And of course, every child and situation are different. Parents who are concerned about the effects of a traumatic head injury should talk to their child’s pediatrician for more information.