Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability among children and adolescents (Yeates, 2005). The Center for Disease and Control (2010) reported an estimated 1.7 million individuals sustaining TBI annually with 51% of these injuries occurring during periods of cerebral development. Children (0-4 years), older adolescents (15-19 years) and older adults (65+ years) are most likely to sustain TBI (CDC, 2010). Brain injuries often lead to severe, pervasive, and potentially irreversible impairments in one’s neurological, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning (e.g., Wilde et al, 2012; Yeates, 2005). This analysis will examine the etiology, prevalence, and impact of traumatic brain injury in the developing brain of children.
Classifications & Diagnosis of TBI
Brain injuries can be classified into three different categories: mild, moderate, and severe TBI. Classification is mostly done using the Glasgow coma scale (GCS) which has gained broad acceptance for the assessment of the severity of brain damage (Bauer & Fritz, 2004). This scale is based on a 15 point scale which measures individual’s level of consciousness based on verbal, motor, and eye responses to stimuli, as well as the overall social dependence on others. One study scrutinized the elements of the Glasgow coma scale (GCS) from 27,625 TBI cases in Taiwan. A correlation was found between the survival rate and certain eye (E), motor (M) and verbal (V) score combinations for GCS (scores of 6, 11, 12, &13) that were discerned to be statistically significant. This illustrates that the fundamental elements comprising the Glasgow coma scale (E, M, & V) are predictive of the survival of TBI patients. The researchers assert that this observation is clinically useful when a complete GCS score cannot be obtained when evaluating TBI patients (Kung et al., 2010).
Neuroimaging scans play a cardinal role in TBI diagnosis, prognosis, and deciding what treatments to give. CT is the preferred method of assessment on admission to determine structural damage and to detect (developing) intracranial hematomas (Maas, Stocchetti, Bullock, 2008). The preferred test is the computed tomography (CT) scan due to its speed, accuracy, and accessibility. The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exhibits more details than CT scan. MRI scan can be more advantageous than the CT scan as it is able to detect other TBI symptoms such as diffuse axonal injury (DAI). Conversely, MRI is usually not the preferred method in emergency setting due to its inability to detect brain hemorrhage and fractures, general inaccessibility, and lengthiness of the procedure.
Previous studies expressed concern in children’s TBI acquisition in their developing brain. Wilde et al (2012) explains that “the neurocognitive and neurobehavioral morbidity is particularly significant with acquired child brain injury because the injury disrupts the neural maturation and development” (Catroppa et al., 2008)....