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Emotional Problems after a Traumatic Brain Injury in Children and Youth

by Aviv Clinics
March 13, 2023

Children and youth have so much to learn and experience—areas that are key for future health and development. Because their brains are still growing, it’s essential to protect and nurture their physical and cognitive health. But as life goes, accidents happen. Children sometimes forget to wear their helmets or buckle their seatbelts. And conditions like a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can suddenly change the course of their life.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can have devastating effects on individuals of all ages, but children and youth are particularly vulnerable due to the crucial brain development that occurs during this time.

Because of brain maturation, the consequences of TBI evolve as a child grows. In some instances, brain plasticity (the ability of the brain to learn and adapt) may help to regain skills or compensate; but in many instances, the true implications of TBI may not be apparent until the child is older. 

In addition to physical and cognitive impairments, children and youth who suffer TBI often experience psychological and emotional problems that can have a significant impact on their quality of life. The symptoms will vary depending on the area and extent of injury to the brain. Some of the most common psychological changes, outlined below, can manifest days or weeks after the accident and can persist long after the initial injury. 


Emotional problems commonly associated with TBI in children and youth:

Learning how a TBI affects mental health is an important step to improving your child’s emotional and behavioral health.

5 Emotional Problems Associated with a TBI in children:

  • Depression: Children with TBI may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. Sadness is a normal response to experiencing an accident. But when these feelings become chronic, your child may be dealing with depression. Depression can be particularly challenging for children and youth as it can impact their ability to concentrate and learn in school.

  • Anxiety: Children with TBI may experience excessive worry or fear, which can interfere with their ability to participate in activities and social situations.
  • Irritability and mood swings: Children with TBI may experience sudden and intense changes in mood, including irritability, anger, and frustration. In some cases, children with TBI may become aggressive and display behaviors such as hitting, kicking, and biting. These mood swings can be challenging for both the child and their caregivers to manage.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Some manifestations of ADHD include disruption in the classroom, the inability to focus, or having trouble understanding and completing schoolwork. Children with TBI carry “an increase in risk for ADHD.” As many as “one in five kids” who have a TBI develop ADHD.

  • PTSD: Children who have experienced a traumatic incident can also develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms may include nightmares, sleep problems, and/or reliving the event in their thoughts.

It is important to note that the severity and duration of these emotional problems after a TBI can vary greatly depending on the individual child and the extent of their injury.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) in children are a significant public health concern in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to a study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, where motor vehicle accidents and falls were the leading causes of TBI in children, accounting for 70% of cases.

Learn more about emotional problems after a traumatic brain injury and how hyperbaric treatments have shown promise in “improving brain function and quality of life.”.



Misdiagnosis of Emotional Problems after a TBI in Children

For children with a TBI, the emotional and behavioral symptoms they experience are often incorrectly diagnosed as other conditions. This misdiagnosis can lead to the wrong treatment or cause delays in recovery. A misdiagnosis can have serious consequences, as it can lead to inappropriate treatment and delay in addressing the underlying TBI.

For example, treating a child with TBI with medication for ADHD may not effectively address the underlying brain injury and may even worsen symptoms. It is therefore important for healthcare providers to consider the possibility of TBI when evaluating a child’s emotional and behavioral symptoms, especially if the child has a history of head injury.

Traumatic brain injury is often referred to as a “hidden” disability, because some of the effects appear small but they may have a great effect on function. Accurate diagnosis is critical for providing appropriate treatment and support for the child’s recovery. Caregivers and family members should also advocate for their child’s needs and ensure that they receive a comprehensive evaluation that includes consideration of a potential TBI.

Seek Help for Your Child with a Holistic Assessment and Rehabilitation Plan

Cognitive and emotional problems after a traumatic brain injury may be treatable. The key is to find a medical team who offers a personalized assessment and treatment plan. Such a plan may include a combination of the following protocols:

  • A comprehensive assessment of your child’s cognitive, behavioral and physical performance, including advanced anatomical and functional brain scanning.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
  • Cognitive training
  • Physical training

A Unique Hyperbaric Oxygen Protocol to Improve Youth Traumatic Brain Injury

At Aviv Clinics, we have a unique approach to treating TBI and its effects on our youth patients.

We offer a comprehensive program that is backed by over a decade of scientific research, that employs hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in addition to an individualized cognitive and physical rehabilitation program.

The Aviv Hyperbaric treatment is offered inside our state-of-the-art, luxurious hyperbaric suite, where the young patient sits and breathes 100% oxygen through a facemask, at a pressure of 1.5 ATA (ideal for children and youth), and includes a unique hyperbaric protocol that triggers the self-regenerative mechanism of the brain and body.

A recent study published in Nature Scientific Reports, shows the effectiveness of Hyperbaric treatment in healing damaged brain tissue and alleviating symptoms in children experiencing persistent post-concussion syndrome (PPCS), where concussion symptoms continue beyond the expected recovery period. 

The study suggests that HBOT improves cognitive and behavioral function, as well as quality of life in pediatric patients suffering from PPCS, even years after their traumatic injury.

Learn more about – Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for TBI

TBI Survivor Story: Linden Perry – Watch her story

At just 15 years old, Linden dealt with multiple concussions from soccer. These accidents left her with post-concussion syndrome (PCS), which caused debilitating physical and cognitive issues.  Time went on with no real improvements. Her traumatic brain injury left her frustrated and unable to perform as well as she wanted to in school and sports.  

Linden and her mother, Clarissa, sought a customized and diverse treatment plan at Aviv Clinics that included the following:

  •     Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  •     Cognitive training
  •     Physical training

After completing the treatment, Linden could finally go to both study and sports. More importantly, she feels more like herself. The long-term health complications she once faced no longer impact her ability to participate in activities.

Clarissa says, “[Linden] seems happier and more like the Linden before.”

Learn More about TBI Treatment in Dubai

If your child has not been the same since their accident, our team of medical professionals can lend a hand. The Aviv team is here to help improve the quality of life for your loved one.

Watch the video about our unique approach:

Aviv Medical Program provides you with a unique opportunity to invest in your health while you age

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