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Brain Injuries in Children

Brain injuries occur any time the head experiences a violent blow or sudden jolt. This movement causes the brain to shift around inside the skull, which can often result in physical damage to the brain itself. Because the brain is essential to the rest of the body functions, injuries to it can often have severe and debilitating effects. With children, this concern is even more significant since brain injuries at a young age can impact the child's developmental process and cause problems down the road.

The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have a long tradition of fighting for the interests of victims of brain injuries, including children. If you suspect that your child's brain injury was caused by someone else's negligent behavior, it might be a good idea to have a personal injury attorney look into your situation to determine what all of your options are. When you come to us, we will guide you through every step of the legal process, from understanding your side of the story to gathering evidence and witnesses to advocating for you at trial, if your case requires it.

Brain Injuries are the Leading Cause of Disability in Children

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death in children and adolescents in the US. The two age groups at greatest risk for these types of injuries are 0-4 and 15-19. Among children and teens aged 0 to 19, roughly 62,000 sustain brain injuries each year because of motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports injuries, and physical abuse. Among children aged 0 to 14, brain injuries result in an estimated 2,685 deaths, 37,000 hospitalizations, and 435,000 emergency room visits.

Common Causes of Brain Injuries in Children

Brain injuries occur when the head strikes a nearby object or is hit by a projectile. As such, there are more ways to incur one than we could possibly count. However, there are a few situations in which we see brain injuries arise most often, including:

  • Slips and falls: It's very common for slips and falls to result in head injuries since the head often strikes the floor or a nearby object when a person falls. Slips and falls are of significant concern for children since they are less stable on their feet and are physically weakest.
  • Recreational accidents: Brain injuries can also be caused by recreational accidents, especially in children. Sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse, skateboarding, and hockey and other high-impact games are of particular concern. Younger children can also sustain brain injuries as a result of common "rough-housing" or by playing with older, bigger children.
  • Car Accidents: Car accidents are a very common source of brain injuries for victims of all ages. When a car comes to a sudden stop as a result of being in an accident, it causes the occupants of the car to be thrown in the opposite direction from which they were traveling. Seat belts and airbags help mitigate injuries as a result of this force, but they are not foolproof. Children can also sustain brain injuries in car accidents if they are not buckled up properly or if they are sitting in a car seat inappropriately.
  • Bicycle accidents: Children are known to be avid bike riders, but this can come at a cost. Bike riders are left completely open to the elements and anything that might harm them. As a result, a child's head can hit the pavement if they are thrown from their bikes during an accident. Wearing a helmet can help to reduce the risk of a brain injury, but it cannot fully eliminate that risk.
  • Physical abuse: Unfortunately, not all brain injuries children sustain are accidental. In many cases, children sustain brain injuries as a result of physical abuse, often from a parent, caregiver, coach, or even a friend of the family.
Symptoms of Brain Injuries in Children

By and large, children experience the same signs and symptoms of brain injuries as adults. Symptoms that require immediate hospitalization include;

  • Loss or change in consciousness lasting from a few seconds to a few hours
  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Unequal dilation of the pupils or double vision
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Slurred speech

Other symptoms that you should keep an eye on include:

  • A headache
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, vertigo, or loss of balance
  • Sensory problems including blurred vision, ringing in ears, bad taste in mouth, and a reduced sense of smell or taste
  • Sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions
  • Mood swings or other mood changes
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Problems remembering, concentrating, and making decisions

While both children and adults can exhibit all symptoms of brain injury, it is often more difficult for children to let others know how they are feeling. Thus, as a parent or caregiver, these are the symptoms to watch for in children especially:

  • Changes in eating or nursing habits
  • Persistent crying, irritability, or crankiness
  • Changes in the child's ability to pay attention
  • Lack of interest in toys or favorite activities
  • Changes in the way the child plays with others
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Loss of learned skills (such as toilet training)
  • Loss of balance or unsteady walking
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness or listlessness
  • Changes in performance at school.
Special Considerations for Children With Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are serious injuries for anyone, but they are particularly serious for children due to the developmental problems that can arise from them. Children are more vulnerable to long-term injuries and developmental issues than adults because their brains are still developing. If the brain is injured while it is still growing, the injury can be much more severe than it would be in a full-grown adult.

The cognitive impairments a child will face may not be immediately obvious after the injury, but they may become more noticeable as the child grows older and faces increased cognitive demands for learning and more complex social situations. While some of these issues may go away over time, others, including physical challenges, can remain with the child for the rest of their life. For most children who suffer severe brain injuries, the most significant challenges they will face will be in their ability to think, learn, and interact with others.

Contact an Atlanta Child Brain Injury Attorney

If your child has suffered a brain injury due to someone else's negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Covington, Fort Benning, and Roswell.

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