Teen brain injuries have become more common over the past decade, with effects that can last from a few days to a lifetime. Caused by a jolt or blow to the head, these injuries disrupt the brain’s normal functioning. In mild cases, commonly known as concussions, adolescents may lose consciousness temporarily but they can sometimes return to normal in a matter of days, with few lasting consequences.
A more severe incident may impair the child’s ability to think, learn or process emotions. Potential sensory impairment can include the loss of vision, hearing or speech. When brain injuries occur, medical evaluation is critical for determining the extent of the damage. Psychological evaluation and intervention also are important for the emotional and behavioral consequences.
Causes and Effects of Brain Injuries in Teenagers
Some of the most common causes for traumatic brain injury (TBI) in teens are automobile accidents and participation in athletic activities. Falls and unintentional trauma, such as being hit by an object, round out the top causes.
Injured kids are sent to the hospital for evaluation, and if the damage doesn’t appear to be severe, they may be diagnosed with a concussion and sent home to be monitored by their parents. Severe head injuries present more obvious challenges, but in many cases, it’s the seemingly mild injuries that pose a bigger problem. With no obvious lasting effects, parents may not associate subtle behavior changes with the injury. The changes may be profound, however, and damage may be long-term.
How Traumatic Brain Injury Can Affect Teens
TBI can cause a variety of problems for teenagers, ranging from cognitive impairment to speech and language difficulties. Hearing loss and balance issues are common, as is altered or impaired vison. But the most troubling effects of TBI are the behavioral problems that often manifest later in the recovery process. Teens can develop the inability to learn, pay attention or solve complex problems. They may lose the ability to predict consequences. Behavioral patterns and even their fundamental personality may undergo a profound shift.
Parents frequently remark that their child becomes a completely different person after an accident of this nature. Social skills may be impaired, self-esteem can plummet and teens may develop depression, anxiety and addiction. What many parents think is merely a troubled teen may actually relate to a previous head injury.
Handling the Problems of Teenage TBI
Whenever head injury occurs, but especially to young, developing brains, a neuropsychological evaluation is critical. This examination can identify any deficits in cognition and help determine if any treatments are available. If the cognitive changes are determined to be untreatable, the evaluation’s results can be used by teachers and psychologists to determine the correct strategies for helping in the classroom and in social situations. Although the teen may never return to his or her pre-accident level of ability, they can learn strategies for adapting to life after a traumatic brain injury.
Havenwood Academy provides residential treatment programs for girls ages 12 to 17 in an environment of trust, love and accountability. Our fully accredited educational programs are customized to meet each young woman’s needs, with a focus on academic achievement, motivation and determination. If your daughter or another young woman in your care is facing academic or emotional challenges, contact us today to learn more about how we can help. You don’t have to face the challenges of teen brain injury and recovery alone.