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New Study Suggests Link Between Brain Injuries and Socialization in Children

A recent study by a group of Brigham Young University researchers suggests that traumatic brain injuries in children may lead to decreased social skills. The findings, which were published in the April 10 issue of Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, focused on a group of adolescents who suffered brain injuries three years prior. The majority were involved in automobile accidents when their injuries were sustained. Researchers observed that a number of the children had a difficult time interacting with their peers in social surroundings. According to the study, children with remaining damage to the frontal lobe of the brain were more likely to demonstrate a diminished level of socialization. Researchers did not conclude that the injury caused the lack of social skills, but they do suspect some level of association.

Shawn Gale is the author of the findings. She explained that these children have a particularly difficult time because their injuries are not apparent to others. Physically, their appearance does not notify others to the damage that occurred inside of their brains. Therefore, when they are forgetful or unfocused, they are not afforded much consideration or patience from their peers.

According to the study, researchers believe that cognitive proficiency provides a viable explanation. Cognitive proficiency is the linking of brain-processing speed with short-term memory. Study authors explain that, when socially interacting with others, the brain must process verbal and nonverbal cues at the same time. The brain then has to remember what was processed, while developing an appropriate response. Problems with the memory or processing aspects of this procedure lead to social complications.

TBI Childhood Statistics

Traumatic brain injuries are the leading causes of death and disability among children, according to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). Approximately 62,000 children, between the ages of 0 and 19, are hospitalized each year due to injury to the brain. Hospital emergency rooms reportedly see and release an average of 564,000 children for brain injuries each year.

Among children, traumatic brain injuries can manifest themselves in a number of different symptoms. Physical impairments may include:

-Speech impediments
-Headaches
-Hearing difficulties
-Seizures
-Poor motor coordination

Examples of cognitive impairments include:

-Short term memory loss
-Limited attention span
-Decreased writing abilities
-Demonstrating poor judgment

As explained in the Brigham Young study, brain injuries in children also manifest with emotional impairments, including:

-Mood swings
-Low self esteem
-Lack of motivation
-Anxiety

According to the BIAA, treatment of traumatic brain injuries in children differs substantially from treatment in adults. The brain of a child is not fully developed and an injury can have a devastating effect, interrupting the cognitive development. These impairments become obvious as the child ages and has an increased need to act in a socially acceptable manner. As stated on the BIAA website, ” These delayed effects can create lifetime challenges for living and learning.”

Brain injuries are serious matters with lasting effects. If the actions of another caused your child’s traumatic brain injury, contact Levin & Perconti for a free consultation.

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