A brain injury occurs when the brain suffers some sort of traumatic event that results in injury, ranging from minor to severe. Brain injuries can be categorized as traumatic brain injury (or TBI), usually resulting from an powerful blow to the head from an external physical source such as a car accident, motorcycle accident or even a fall, or acquired brain injury (or ABI), more commonly associated with a stroke or any sort of deprivation of oxygen to the brain which occurred after birth. ABI, however, is not hereditary or degenerative or related to any trauma at birth.
The statistics concerning TBIs and ABIs are shockingly staggering, with an estimated cost of three billion dollars in Canada, one billion of that being in Ontario alone.
Children and youth in 2003-2004, ages 0-19, represented a high percentage of admissions to hospitals for head injuries, most of which were TBIs. Many of these injuries were sustained from falls during sporting and recreational activities.
Diagnosing a brain injury, especially in children, is a very serious and definitive task. A brain injury can’t always be visibly detected and the symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for overly aggressive or inappropriate behaviour.
The symptoms are prevalent in the three main areas listed below:
Physical Impairments: this is where speech, coordination, vision and hearing amongst other functions are affected. Symptoms can include fatigue and headaches.
Cognitive Impairments: this results in lethargic thinking and decline in memory, which affects planning and communication skills, as well as limiting one’s attention span.
Emotional Impairments: this can consist of mood swings, depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional issues.
Children are just as susceptible to brain injuries as adults, if not more so. It is more difficult to detect the subtleties that are attached to brain injuries in children. They may act and look fine, but as time goes by and they age, the cognitive, emotional and physical disruptions can start to show. They may not always be able to accurately express the mild changes that they are feeling, hence the difficulty in diagnosing and treatment of the injury. A few common symptoms are listed below.
- Unfamiliar decrease in energy
- Loss of interest in usual favorite toys or activities
- Significant change in performance at school
- Loss of acquired skills (like potty training), balance and coordination
Between the years of 1999-2000, approximately one hundred out of one hundred thousand males and fifty out of one hundred thousand in females in Ontario were victims of TBIs. By estimation, twenty five percent of TBIs require rehabilitation services.
Aside from the significant cost if properly diagnosed (which includes continuing care, inpatient rehabilitation and home care), the long term emotional, behavioral effects and damage can be overwhelming and unmanageable. As opposed to an adult, a child’s brain in still developing and studies have shown that behavioral and social deviations have a higher rate of development in children who have had a head injury versus those who haven’t.
Though not always avoidable, parents need to be vigilant and protect children where necessary from everyday risks of injury. Simple solutions like wearing helmets can save you and your child a lifetime of pain and grief.
If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence and you do not know where to turn, the personal injury lawyers at Rastin & Associates can help. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.