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Speeding up recovery time for kids with a TBI

(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 11:16 AM EDT
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(06/22/2020) -- Falls … accidents … abuse. About 812,000 kids in the U.S. visit an emergency room for a traumatic brain injury every year. But what can help these kids manage their recovery?

Ivanhoe shares what parents need to know.

Exploring … running … and jumping.

Twelve-year-old “Tommy”, which is not his real name, wasn’t always able to do this.

“When he was seven months old, he was shaken. He had shaken baby syndrome by some family members,” explained “Tommy’s” adoptive mom.

It was a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

“As a result of that, he is almost totally blind in his right eye, and at the time, he had very little movement in his right arm and his left leg,” continued “Tommy’s” adoptive mom.

TBI’s can have significant short and long-term effects. They can also pose a different set of challenges in kids’ growing brains.

“They may develop over time and do fairly well, but then hit middle school and all of a sudden, they grow into that brain injury and you start to see where they are struggling,” said Thomas G. Burns, PsyD, Chief of Psychology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The long-term effects can include physical difficulties with speech, vision, and motor coordination. There can also be some cognitive and emotional impairments.

“The best thing a parent can do is become educated on what the injury was,” Dr. Burns stated.

Parents should also flag changes in sleep, appetite, speech, or attention. Keep in mind that your child may need several different specialists to assist in recovery.

Finally, most importantly, provide support. “Tommy’s” advice to other kids - “I know this is hard, but you got to get this over with, OK. Then you gotta go play.”

Burns also mentions that when it comes to school, children with mild TBI’s, such as concussions, who were kept out of school for three to five days had many more problems and had a longer time to recover than the kids who got back to their normal routine quicker.

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