Medical studies show that traumatic brain injuries in children and adolescents are linked to elevated risks of impaired functioning in adulthood.
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Childhood Injuries may have Long-Term Effects
A medical study in Sweden followed one million people between 1973 and 1985 who had at least one traumatic brain injury (TBI) before the age of 25. Researchers also followed all unaffected siblings of TBI patients to assess genetic factors in families. Results revealed that TBI patients consistently showed a higher risk for the following conditions:
- Premature mortality under the age of 45
- Psychiatric hospital inpatient admissions
- Psychiatric hospital outpatient visits
- Lower educational levels
- Higher frequency of disability pensions
- Higher frequency of welfare recipients
Childhood accidents involving falls and blows to the head can lead to health problems in adulthood. Children often suffer head injuries from birth deliveries; learning to stand, walk and run; bicycle accidents; playground falls at school; sports activities; and vehicle accidents. Children typically experience at least several major falls by the age of three and dozens of falls by the time they reach adolescence. According to hospital records, more than 200,000 children are taken to hospital emergency rooms every year in the U.S. for injuries related to playground falls.
According to medical research, the years between birth and two years of age are critical to a child’s brain development, and even minor head injuries can have long-term effects on brain and spinal functions. Because young children fall so frequently, head and spinal injuries can go undetected without obvious symptoms of pain, cuts, and bruises, compromising a child’s health over a period of months or years. If a concussion occurs, a child may experience loss of consciousness, periods of mental confusion, memory loss, and visual disturbances such as blurry or double vision. A concussion must be carefully monitored for at least 48 hours to rule out more serious brain injuries.
In teenagers and young adults who experience severe headaches, neck aches or back pain, physicians often trace the pain back to the previous head and spinal injuries from childhood and adolescence. In adulthood, those same childhood injuries can trigger sudden, unexpected pain or immobility in the head, neck, and spine. Years of small or frequent injuries during childhood can prevent proper recovery and lead to necessary medications or physical therapy later in life.