Does Your Child Have a TBI — or Is It Something Else?

Well, the first thing that would come to my mind in these cases that we're going to call milder brain injuries--because I don't think there is such a thing as a mild brain injury--is the first thing you're going to do is try to think back to any events in which your child may have had a blow to the head, because that is the trigger you're looking for to say is this a brain injury or is it something else? If you can't think of anything, a fall or a hit or falling off a bike or playing ball and being hit in the head, then you don't have an event to tie it to, and then you need to pursue something else. If you have an event to tie it to, then it would be--where I would go would be depending on the symptoms the child is experiencing. So if the child is experiencing physical or neurological symptoms, we would want the child to see a pediatric neurologist, informing the pediatric neurologist that you're specifically there because you think your child has sustained a concussion or a mild brain injury and you would like the neurologist to rule that out. If the child is experiencing learning difficulties or attention difficulties or behavioral difficulties that are somewhat different, then what I would suggest there is doing a neuropsych evaluation. Neurologists would probably do a standard neurological exam looking for focal signs of neurological insult, might do some neuroimaging, maybe do some neuroimaging, and you would hope that the neurologist would be--if they're going to do neuroimaging they would suggest the kind of neuroimaging that's coming out--that we're beginning to see are more sensitive to the things that you would see in a child with a TBI.

If there was no fall or accident to which to tie TBI symptoms, it is best to get your child a full neuropsychologic evaluation.

Wayne Gordon

Wayne Gordon, PhD, ABPP/Cn, is the Jack Nash Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and associate director of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is a neuropsychologist and the director of the Mount Sinai Brain Injury Research Center.

Posted on BrainLine March 15, 2011

Produced by Noel Gunther, Ashley Gilleland, Victoria Tilney McDonough, and Brian King.

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