Pediatric Versus Adult Rehabilitation After Brain Injury

With regards to pediatric rehabilitation after a brain injury versus an adult rehabilitation after brain injury, again it's all about the goals--thinking about who this person has been, what we want this person to be. Obviously what we want them to be is as close to what they were before. With children, they're going to change a lot over time, and so you take a child who has had a traumatic brain injury who is 3 years old. Well, they haven't gone through all of their developmental milestones. They may have been walking already, but their language is not fully developed. They still need all their schooling--so many other milestones that they have to go through. So what we want to do is try to facilitate their milestones, find ways that they can try to integrate back into their school, into their social situation, their schooling situation their home situation--all critical things. The challenge being with children who suffer brain injuries early is that milestones that weren't reached may never be reached. It's a challenging field, pediatric brain injury rehabilitation. Of course, obviously, the families are so devastated by the situation also. Not that treating adults is so easy, either, but hopefully an adult who comes in has some work history, has some family history, has some social supports around them and getting them back to their work may be easier than trying to get a child back to school, let's say, who is 3 years old and may not even have been in school before. I think a lot of great work is going on in the Sarah Jane Brain Injury Foundation, who's looking at better ways we can treat pediatric--children with brain injury, how we can do more researching and better clinical care of children with brain injury.

How is rehab for children different from rehab for adults? What should we expect for our four-year old who fell off the jungle gym?

Brian Greenwald

Dr. Brian Greenwald is medical director of Center for Head Injuries and the associate medical director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. He is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Posted on BrainLine August 23, 2011.