Mild TBI Can Have a Lasting Impact for Young Children, but It’s Not Clear Whether They Receive the Rehabilitation and Education Services They May Need

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is brain damage resulting from an external force, such as a fall or a car accident. TBI can be rated as mild, moderate, or severe depending on how long the person loses consciousness. Some people with mild TBI, sometimes called a concussion, may still experience injury serious enough for the damage to be seen on imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children age 5 years and younger have the highest number of emergency department visits for TBI and most are discharged to home at the time of injury.  For young children, even mild TBI can have lasting effects on learning and behavior that may persist into the elementary-school years and beyond. Research has shown that rehabilitation and educational supports may help these children successfully transition to school. However, many young children may not receive rehabilitation or educational supports after a TBI, especially if they are not hospitalized at the time of the injury. In a recent NIDILRR-funded study, researchers asked parents of young children with TBI about their service history between the injury and first study visit. The researchers wanted to find out how many of the children received rehabilitation or preschool-based services related to their TBI. They also wanted to find out whether children with more severe injuries or longer hospital stays were more likely to receive services.