It had started as a normal day of high school, but when the school bus she was riding was rear-ended by the bus behind it, Libby flew forward and hit her forehead on the bar-encased seat in front of her. She did not lose consciousness that afternoon nor spend a night in the hospital, but over the ensuing months, Libby and her family had to learn to come to terms with the consequences of her traumatic brain injury: severe headaches, fatigue, erratic moods and emotions, and loss of short-term memory and executive function.
Worst, the “old” Libby — tough, athletic, and bubbly, a girl who grew up horseback riding and who excelled at the violin — seemed to have been replaced by a girl who would tire and frustrate easily, who would get angry or cry at the drop of a hat, who struggled to do what used to come so easily.
During the next several years, Libby battled at home and school as she tried to find a new “normal.” With support from her family and the sheer determination she had always been known for, Libby graduated with her class.
Libby was one of the 1.7 million people who sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. In fact, children aged 0 to 4 years and older adolescents aged 15 to 19 years are among the groups most likely to sustain a TBI. And because children’s brains are still developing, the toll of a brain injury on a child can sometimes be more dire than on an adult.
In addition to educating themselves on how to prevent a concussion, parents should know these basic facts:
Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it’s often harder for them to share how they feel. Call your child's doctor if he or she has had a blow to the head and you notice any of these symptoms:
Sometimes problems from a brain injury can be similar to those related to a learning disability, so getting an accurate diagnosis can all the difference. Problems at school that result from a TBI can include attention and concentration, planning and organization, and social interaction among others.
Our content about children and TBI provides information about children, ages birth through 22 years, who are affected by traumatic brain injury. Children with special needs in this age range may be eligible to receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law.
Remember that children do best when parents, educators, and health professionals communicate, develop common goals, and work together. But most importantly, parents play the most essential role in their child’s recovery.
"Kids with TBI are desperate to fit in with their peers, which can make them incredibly vulnerable," says clinical psychologist Mariann Young.
BrainLine Kids is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education Award# H133B090010.