Traumatic brain injury is a relatively common occurrence in childhood. Although trauma can occur at any age, children are particularly at risk for accidents involving head trauma.
The neurobehavioral symptoms of head injury may include declines in: nonverbal intelligence, visual motor skills, attention and memory, oral fluency, verbal skills, academic achievement, reading, and an increase in psychiatric disorders.
Deficits vary among children depending on the age at the time of the injury and the nature, type, and severity of the injury sustained. Furthermore, a recent research study found that despite normal neuropsychological test scores on some achievement tests, many of the injured children failed to keep up with their peer group during subsequent years following their trauma. Those children required further tutoring and counseling which was not initially anticipated due to their “normal” test scores.
The explanation for this situation is based upon a concept called the “sleeper effect“. This suggests that the future attainment of developmental stages are dependent upon an intricate and intact organic lattice-work of nerve fibers in the brain. If that system is disrupted, future development can be jeopardized.
Thus, it is crucial to maintain competent evaluation and treatment channels for at least a few years following pediatric brain injury and to closely monitor the child for signs of developmental delay.
Competent neuropsychological assessment of pediatric head injury is crucial in order to accurately assess, diagnose and diminish the common neurobehavioral problems that can follow a head injury.