Like a freight train, more and more information continues to come out building the case for the long-term harm caused by all forms of brain injury. Far more than we previously knew, damage to the head can impact so many areas of one’s life. Beyond the physical damage, there is social, mental, and emotional harm that plagues many who are hurt. This is true no matter the injured party–from children to the elderly. When considering the legal ramifications when negligence is a cause in the harm, the expansive nature of the consequences must be factored.
The latest news on the subject comes from a new study presented at the national conference this week of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Researchers took a look at a subject that is well-known in adults but less understood in children: the link between brain injury and depression.
As discussed in a Red Orbit piece on the research, investigators examined a mountain of data from the National Survey of Children’s health (obtained in 2007). They poured through the information to understand if there was a link between children who suffered a brain injury and developed depression. Their findings were clear: “children who suffer a brain injury are twice as likely to develop symptoms as their injury-free peers.”
According to the data, about 1.9 percent of children suffer some form of head injury annually. Using samples representative of that figure (2,000 children total), researchers found that about 15 percent of the brain injured children suffered from depression. This represented a figure 5x larger than the general rate of depression in all children.
Of course, as in all research, other factors needed to be held constant. For example, it could be that children who were likely to suffer a head injury were inherently more likely to suffer from depression due to some other factor–family structure, socioeconomic status, etc. Yet, even when controlling for all of those, researchers found a clear link between brain injury and depression. This means that the injury itself influences depression-risk.
One key benefit to the research is that it may allow for better predictions by medical teams regarding a child’s recovery. By being more on the look-out for possible signs of depression, families and medical teams can ensure that treatment is provided earlier, hopefully minimizing the child’s long-term suffering.
This may have a bearing on civil litigation when damages are calculated. For example, is a child suffers the injury in a car accident where another driver was at fault, a lawsuit may be filed to ensure the injured party is “made whole” following the injury. The damages awarded are connected to the present and future needs of the child to return to perfect health (if possible). Considering the link between the head injury and depression, it may be necessary to factor in the cost of treatment and support for the depression.
If your child suffered a brain injury that was related to some form of negligence, consider contacting our legal team to see how we can help.
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