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Concussions can significantly impact a child’s development

The Center for Disease Control recently released a new report to Congress on The Management of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children. There were some interesting findings that parents need to be keenly aware of.

Paige Havens

The report states young children have one of the highest rates of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) related emergency department (ED) visits. This means that TBI in children proves to be a significant public health risk that we all need to take very seriously.

The leading causes of TBI in children were motor vehicle crashes and everyday trips and falls. Sports and recreational activities followed closely behind. Head injuries categorized as “mild TBI” account for 70-90% of TBI-related ED visits. Concussions fall into this “mild” category.

Unfortunately, because the medical community often refers to a concussion as a “mild” brain injury, we tend not to take it as seriously. Many people think of a concussion as a simple acute condition and expect it to fade away quickly like a cold or stomach virus with little care necessary. But nothing could be further from the truth. The effects of concussions if not diagnosed and treated properly can be chronic and disabling.

TBI affects children differently than adults. An injury of any severity to the developing brain of a child can disrupt that child’s developmental trajectory and may result in learning disabilities and impact their ability to participate in everyday activities. As a result of concussions, children can experience changes in their health, thinking, and behavior that affect learning, self-regulation, and social participation. Although most children recover well physically, they often will experience changes in behavior and cognition that are not recognized immediately. A TBI that occurs during childhood even has the potential to cause health problems and challenges that can follow them in adulthood.

While longitudinal studies show most children will recover from initial symptoms within six weeks of injury, 60% have persistent symptoms one-month post-injury, 10% at three months, and 5% at one year. The significance of problems might not be realized until years after the injury when higher-level cognitive and behavioral functioning don’t meet development milestones.

This is why it is so important that parents educate themselves about concussions and traumatic brain injury. Make time to read the CDC’s full report ( and take any big bump or jolt to your child’s head or body seriously. These injuries can be life-changing.