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 Study shows traumatic brain injury haunts children for years

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Date posted: 16/05/2009

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the single most common cause of death and disability in children and adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now, according to a new study by UCLA researchers, the effects of a blow to the head, whether it's mild or a concussion, can linger for years.

Reporting in the May issue of the journal Neuropsychology, Talin Babikian, lead author and a UCLA post-doctoral fellow, and senior author Robert Asarnow, a UCLA professor of psychiatry, analyzed 28 selected articles about TBI that were published between the years 1988 and 2007, quantifying for the first time a summary of all of the available literature on the effects of a traumatic brain injury on the developing brain of a child or adolescent.

The key and surprising finding, the authors say, was that over time, children and adolescents with a severe traumatic brain injury appear to fall even farther behind their peers than one would expect, making intervention and monitoring especially important in this group.

Various levels of TBI in children were included in the studies that were reviewed. The extent of a brain injury is typically based on the "Glasgow Coma Scale" or GCS, a standard clinical tool to measure severity of a brain injury. It includes a person's eye/pupil response, motor response, and verbal communication to determine injury severity--mild, moderate, or severe TBI. The children in the studies were sorted by TBI severity and the time since their injury. All three severity levels were examined, and follow-up exams were done on average 0-5 months, 6-23 months, or 24+ months after injury, for 14 key aspects of neurocognition.

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