TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES IN CHILDREN
Walker Law has represented families whose children suffered from Traumatic Brain Injuries (hereinafter “TBI”) collecting millions of dollars for our clients. In 2013, Walker Law resolved a case for three (3) million dollars after a family retained the firm whose child, unbeknownst to the family, suffered a TBI after he fell from an unguarded retaining wall. TBIs are not always recognizable in children because a TBI does not require that you lose consciousness. For example, a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to your head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes your head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. Every time an NFL player goes into the concussion protocol after a hard hit, it is due to a concussion. If you, and/or your child suffered a serious blow to the head in an automobile accident, or from a fall, that is significant enough to cause pain, a wound, or memory loss, a TBI may have occurred.
While many people recover from TBIs over time, some do not, and they can lead to a lifetime of misunderstanding and problems. One reason TBIs can cause quiet and sometimes unnoticed disability is due to loss of Executive Function. Executive functioning issues are not considered a disability on their own. These issues are weaknesses in a key set of mental skills. Moreover, they often appear in kids with learning and attention issues. What are executive functions? How do they impact learning and everyday living? Executive functions consist of several mental skills that help the brain organize and act on information. These skills enable people to plan, organize, remember things, prioritize, pay attention and get started on tasks. They also help people use information and experiences from the past to solve current problems.
If your child has executive functioning issues, any task requiring these skills could be a challenge. That could include doing a load of laundry or completing a school project. Having issues with executive functioning make it difficult to:
Keep track of time
Make sure work is finished on time
Apply previously learned information to solve problems
Look for help or more information when it is needed
Experts have estimated that 1 million children sustain TBIs each year in the United States (Lehr, 1990) and that patients under the age of 18 years constitute the majority of victims of TBI (Gopinath & Narayan, 1992). The National Head and Spinal Cord Injury Survey (NHSCIS; Kalsbeek, McLaurin, Harris, & Miller, 1980) determined an average head injury incidence of 150 per 100,000 in children between the ages of 1 day and 4 years, and the incidence increased to 550 per 100,000 between the ages of 15 and 24 years. TBI occurs more often and more severely in males than females with a ratio ranging from 2:1 to 4:1 (Begali, 1992; Lehr, 1990).
Permanent deficits resulting from a TBI have significant ramifications for the education of children with such injuries. A minimum of 1 of every 550 school-age children each year will experience a TBI that can result in a long-term disability (Savage & Walcott, 1994). According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with TBI may receive appropriate identification (as a specific educational disability category) and receive appropriate services in the schools (Begali, 1992) and continues under current iterations of the law. Hux, Marquardt, Skinner, and Bond (1999) found that nearly 29% of students with reported TBIs had received special education services. They also found that the younger the child was at the time of injury, the more likely he or she was to receive special education services, suggesting educators are better attuned to identifying and diagnosing academic, behavioral, and social challenges in younger children than in adolescents.
School-age children who have sustained a TBI will require extraordinary effort from individuals in their school, home, and community. Overall, children sustaining a TBI endure cognitive deficits that are positively correlated with the severity of the injury, thus increasing the need for special education services (Donders, 1994). It has been well documented that TBI in children is often associated with working memory impairment (Kinsella et al., 1995; McDowell, Whyte, & D’Esposito, 1997), motor problems (Chaplin, Deitz, & Jaffe, 1993), language problems (i.e., pragmatics, verbal fluency, word finding, concept formation, verbal comprehension), and general cognitive problems (Chadwick, Rutter, Thompson, & Shaffer, 1981), as well as behavioral (Johnson & Balleny, 1996), affective (Stratton & Gregory, 1994), and social interaction deficits, such as reduced social skills (Stratton & Gregory, 1994).
Please seek medical treatment for you and/or your children after a significant head injury. If that injury was caused by the negligence of another driver or premises owner, please consult a lawyer only after seeking medical treatment.
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