Traumatic brain injury victims experience lifelong effects

May 12th, 2009 - 4:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 12 (IANS) Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries can experience either lasting neuro-psychological problems or their onset later in life, according to two new studies.
Researchers at Universities of Ohio State, Case Western Reserve and hospitals in Columbus and Cleveland followed 37 children after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), 40 after moderate TBI, and 44 children after musculoskeletal injury (a common way to control for trauma and the hospital experience).

All of the children were injured between the ages of six and 12, and assessed six months, 12 months, and three to five years following their injuries.

Predictably, kids with severe TBI showed greater problems than children with other injuries in the areas of mental processing, learning and memory, behaviour, adaptation and academics. Children whose comas were longer and more severe had more, and more serious, problems.

Some children with severe TBI started to fall even further behind their peers than one would normally expect, in a snowball effect that requires further study.

In the second study, the first systematic meta-analysis summarising the collective results of many single studies, the researchers found that problems lasted over time and, in some cases, worsened with more serious injury.

This study, conducted by Talin Babikian and Robert Asarnow, at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), the authors analysed 28 selected articles published between 1988 and 2007.

The children were sorted by TBI severity and time since injury. Severity levels were mild, moderate or severe TBI, and follow-ups were on average 0-five months, six-23 months, or 24+ months, for 14 key aspects of neurocognition.

The worse the injury, the worse the neurocognitive outcome, especially on measures of general intellectual functioning and processing speed.

Most problems stick. Despite modest recovery, weaknesses in many children with moderate TBI persist even two years after the injury, compared to the children in control groups, said a release of the American Psychological Association.

The Centres for Disease Control in 2000 cited traumatic brain injury as the single most common cause of death and disability in children and adolescents.

The results of both studies were published in the May issue of Neuropsychology.

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