Pediatric traumatic brain injury: Level the playing field

Not all children are receiving the same level or form of care following a pediatric traumatic brain injury. Those who are on the less fortunate side of these discrepancies are suffering the consequences.  

As per the CDC, traumatic brain injury is known as the leading cause of disability in children. Published reports show that each year an estimated 3,000 children and youth die from TBI; 29,000 are hospitalized; and 400,000 are treated in hospital emergency departments.  

Following traumatic brain injuries, occupational therapy can play a crucial role in recovery. I was shocked to learn that 31% of children hospitalized with TBI have unmet or unrecognized needs for health services one year after injury.  

Ensuring healthcare services for children with TBI are accessible can lessen the amount of untreated TBI cases.

I saw firsthand the effects that occupational therapy can have on children who have suffered from TBI through my shadowing internship. Working towards goals with an occupational therapist, these children were progressing in their social interactions and interactions with materials that contribute to their activities of daily living. 

In a study conducted to highlight the symptoms of TBI, students aged 11-18 participated to bring attention to their concussion symptoms. Although attention was brought to the light sensitivity, dizziness, nausea and headaches they were experiencing, my attention gravitated toward the level of care each of them received. The students described their transitions back into their school routine, as well as the protocols that were suggested to them by healthcare providers, which sparked my interest. The students reported receiving inconsistent recommendations for concussion recovery and guidelines from medical professionals, in both methods of delivery and information. An example of this is the recommendation to avoid screen time, while others were told it was okay to use.  

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