Emotional Problems after a Traumatic Brain Injury in Children and Youth

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:

Can Concussion Symptoms Be Delayed?

The mind and body are complex. We might think we know what is happening inside our bodies, but sometimes it’s not very obvious. 

According to estimates, 69 million individuals are estimated to suffer TBI from all causes each year.” Experiencing post-concussion syndrome symptoms years later is not uncommon. If you’ve endured a motorbike or car accident, the brain injury that occurs can manifest on its own timeline.

Fortunately, recovery from delayed symptoms is possible even years after a traumatic brain injury. The Aviv medical team is here to explain why concussion symptoms can be delayed and what you can do to treat them. Use this guide to regain control of your health—the foundation of a good life.

Delayed Symptoms of Concussion: Why They Happen 

For some people, concussion symptoms will come on immediately. Others have symptoms that come and go. And yet some people exhibit symptoms only later in life. 

For example, a patient with a concussion might initially have headaches that resolve quickly. Then over time, these minor headaches develop into new and debilitating symptoms (e.g., chronic and/or more severe headaches).

Delayed symptoms from a concussion may include physical and mental effects, such as: 

  • Headaches 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Blurred vision 
  • Sensitivity to light/noise
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Mood swings 


What to Do If You Suspect You Might Have Delayed Symptoms of Concussion? 

Rest assured, there are several clinically and scientifically proved treatments for post-concussion syndrome. They include: 

  • Physical therapy (PT): Aims to ease pain and improve mobility and range of motion of different joints. This includes different types of manual therapy, exercises, and a range of other modalities. 
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Psychological treatment that strives to change thinking and behavioral patterns
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT): Involves breathing 100% pure oxygen in a room known as an HBOT suite to increase oxygen levels in the body up to 20 times higher than average to improve cognitive, physical, and psychological performance

Read more about the common post-concussion syndrome (PCS) treatment options. 

How Does the Brain Recover from a Concussion?

The brain is a powerful organ with self-healing mechanisms. The key is finding the right treatment program to give the brain the delicate push it needs to unleash its potential. 

The right medical expertise and protocol can help: 

  • Encourage neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to adapt and react in response to injury or disease
  • Drive neurogenesis, or nerve cell regeneration that occurs in the brain
  • Increase blood flow and oxygen in the parts of the brain associated with executive function, vision, sensation, and other responses

How Long Does It Take To Recover? 

Most patients at Aviv see progress within about 8-12 weeks of the start of their treatment plan. But the recovery period varies depending on the condition’s severity and the patient’s health background, lifestyle, and other factors.

The best treatment plan will offer lasting results. Even if you have post-concussion symptoms years after an accident, there is still hope for recovery. 

Aviv Clinic’s Unique Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Protocol

At Aviv Clinics Dubai brought to you by DP World, our team proudly executes a highly-advanced HBOT and rehabilitation program backed by research and data. We take a holistic approach to healing. Our unique HBOT protocol involves specific, personalized fluctuations of oxygen levels in the suite to kick-start the body’s recovery process.

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be successful because it addresses the cause of the symptoms, not just the symptoms alone. In combination with cognitive, physical, and nutritional coaching, some HBOT protocols can be very effective.” —Dr. Mohammed Elamir, MD, FACP

A Personal Story of Healing through Aviv Clinics

Using HBOT to address TBIs and concussions has proven to enhance our patients’ vitality, health, and confidence to live their best lives.

Learn about Corey Black’s journey of recovery after sports-related injuries:

Invest in Your Health with the Aviv Medical Program

Good health allows you to focus on the essential areas of your life. The time to invest in your health is now, and the Aviv Medical Program will be with you every step of the way. Contact our team to find out how our treatment plans can benefit you.


Treatment for Children and Adolescents with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PCS

Children and adolescents experiencing the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-concussion syndrome, and other brain performance problems have the opportunity for a better future with the right approach to treatment. Explore an effective treatment for TBI offered by Aviv Clinics Dubai:

Aviv Clinics Dubai Launches Highly Specialized Youth Medical Program to Assess and Treat TBI and Brain Performance Problems in Children and Adolescents

    • The program uses Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) to improve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of youth suffering from specific brain-related issues.
    • The new youth treatment program is backed by a first-of-its-kind study validating the Aviv HBOT protocol as an effective treatment for children suffering from persistent post-concussion syndrome.

cp-training tbi-recovery

Aviv Clinics Dubai, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DP World, has opened a new wing at its JLT-based specialty brain health and performance center dedicated to a breakthrough Youth Medical Program that uses hyperbaric medicine to treat specific brain injuries in children and youth between the ages of 8 and 15. 

The program specializes in the treatment of multiple disorders including cerebral palsy (a childhood motor disorder in childhood caused by brain injury due to lack of oxygen or blood supply), Traumatic Brain Injury (sudden damage to the brain caused by a blow or jolt to the head), and strokes (when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, because of a blockage or a blood vessel rupture). 

The Aviv Youth Medical Program is the focus of a new study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, which 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, conducted at the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Shamir Medical Center, suggests that HBOT improves cognitive and behavioral function, as well as quality of life in pediatric patients suffering from PPCS, even years after receiving their traumatic injury.

The Aviv Youth Medical Program treatment starts with a comprehensive three-day medical, physiological, and mental assessment carried out by Aviv-certified medical staff including pediatricians, pediatric neuropsychologists, physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and nurses. This includes the most advanced brain imaging tests suited to the child’s needs, such as perfusion MRI, and SPECT.

After analyzing the results of the in-depth assessment, children undergo HBOT sessions five days a week for 12 weeks – 60 consecutive one-hour sessions in total. Alongside the HBOT sessions, the patient will receive personalized cognitive and physical training designed to maximize the effects of the rehabilitation.  At the end of the treatment, tests are repeated and compared with the results of the initial assessment.

“The diagnosis and treatment of post-concussion syndrome in children is a critical issue that physicians and researchers have struggled with, to the detriment of the children,” said Dr. Shai Efrati, Medical Director of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research and Shamir Medical Center, and Chair of Aviv Scientific’s Medical Advisory Board.

“For the first time, we have demonstrated an effective treatment for pediatric PPCS, whether the injury occurred six months or 10 years ago. This discovery and the launch of our new Youth Medical Program offers hope to thousands of families watching their children suffer from unrelenting symptoms.”


Upon completion of the study, researchers found that children treated with HBOT experienced a significant improvement in cognitive function, including the general cognitive score, memory, and executive function (ability to plan, prioritize tasks, and complete complex goal-directed behaviors), compared to the untreated children. 

Other PPCS symptoms that improved include behavioral symptoms such as hyperactivity, and, perhaps most strikingly, the study revealed parallel structural brain changes, as seen on MRI, in the areas of the brain known to be affected by TBI leading to cognitive dysfunction and other symptoms of PPCS.

“Working in collaboration with DP World, we are able to bring to Dubai and the UAE medical community this highly specialized brain performance program grounded in more than 15 years of research and powered by truly state-of-the-art technology. As this study shows, we have the potential to give new hope to our young people and their families through the ability to diagnose and treat what can be debilitating symptoms of TBI, as well as other common brain disorders such as Cerebral Palsy and strokes. At the same time, we are able to contribute to advancing both Dubai’s and the UAE’s positions as global innovators and hubs for med tech and medical tourism,” said Mike Frayne, CEO of Aviv Clinics Dubai. 

The same treatment protocol conducted during this study will be adopted in the youth wing at Aviv Clinics in Dubai. It will be administered under the same strict protocols, with additional comprehensive cognitive and physical training support for the various conditions and symptoms addressed by Aviv including concussion and TBI, and more.  Aviv Clinic’s new Youth Medical Program is located in a dedicated wing of the 7,000-square-meter, state-of-the-art brain health and performance clinic in Dubai’s JLT. 

If your child needs treatment for TBI symptoms or other brain conditions, we encourage you to learn more about the Youth Medical Program at Aviv Clinics Dubai by DP World.


Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to Address TBI and Concussion

Head injuries are much more common than one might think. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there were over 64,000 TBI-related deaths in 2020, which equates to more than 175 brain injury-related deaths every day.

Those most affected include adolescents aged 15-19 and adults older than 65. Among seniors, falls are the most common cause of TBIs—a pervasive problem that can be mitigated with a few key strategies.

Yet, despite how pervasive TBIs are, many people don’t realize when they’re experiencing the “traumatic” incident. At one time, a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which many know simply as a concussion, was actually thought to be a benign event. With much research, experts now know that even small, repeated injuries to the brain can have significant effects. These injuries can contribute to adverse neuropsychological outcomes—both acutely and long-term.

For example, in the moment, a concussion might cause dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and vomiting. But over time, that same injury or repeated injuries may contribute to ongoing symptoms, such as chronic headaches, trouble concentrating or thinking clearly, memory problems, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Some people may not even connect an injury that happened years ago with their current symptoms, which can make it difficult to properly diagnose a TBI or post-concussion syndrome.

Unfortunately, the incidence of TBI and concussion persists. Per the Brain Injury Association of America, cumulative evidence shows that an estimated 5.3 million men, women, and children are living with a permanent TBI-related disability in the U.S. today.

Yet, does it have to be “permanent”?

HBOT’s Role in Relieving TBI Symptoms


Dedicated research into brain healing reveals a therapy that produces positive results in cases of TBI and post-concussion syndrome. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has historically been accepted as an effective treatment for medical issues like wound healing, severe infections, and decompression sickness. For some time, HBOT had not been explored much beyond those applications.

However, research in the last two decades reveals that HBOT, in combination with certain cognitive, nutritional, and physiological protocols, is able to repair areas of the brain that have been damaged due to TBI and concussion, as well as stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and other neurological conditions.

What Results Can Individuals Expect?

To understand how HBOT works to address TBI and post-concussion damage, it’s important to know what changes occur in the brain during those injuries. Structural damage indicates a physical impact on the brain, such as bleeding. Metabolic damage is present when the brain’s cells are affected.

Traditional scans like CT and MRI may not be able to detect metabolic damage, especially if an injury occurred years ago. More advanced scans—like functional MRI and SPECT—are better able to identify areas of the brain that may be producing chronic post-concussion symptoms.

Applying HBOT and the unique protocols of the Aviv Medical Program yields multiple changes in the brain:

  • New blood vessel formation (angiogenesis)
  • New and stronger neural connections
  • Stem cell production

These neural, vascular, and cellular changes contribute to cognitive improvements in memory, executive function, attention, processing speed, and spatial memory. Individuals with brain-based motor skill challenges also benefit from this comprehensive therapy.

Elements of the Aviv Medical Program also include cognitive therapy, strength and physical training, and nutritional coaching. The physiological and nutritional aspects of Aviv Clinics’ customized protocol elicit enhancements such as greater aerobic fitness, higher energy levels, improved sleep, and reduced pain. Overall, individuals report a significant improvement in their quality of life after completing the program

Bottom Line


If you’ve ever been in a car accident, fallen off a horse, or had “your bell rung” playing sports, you may have experienced a brain injury that could still be impacting your health. The Aviv Medical Program can help ease your symptoms.

If you or a loved one suspects a TBI or concussion has left lingering symptoms, contact us to learn more about how investing 90 days into treatment could change the rest of your life.