As a parent, you have a lot to worry about when it comes to your children. Physical development and speech are both factors you may look to in order to determine if your child is developing at a rate appropriate to their age. One factor which can impede a child’s development is a pediatric traumatic brain injury. If you have the unfortunate experience of having a child who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, know there is help. At District Speech & Language Therapy, our team of professionals can help create a treatment plan to address the issues which can arise with a brain injury. Keep reading to learn more. What Is Traumatic Brain Injury? Physical trauma occurs when excessive force is exerted on the body, resulting in serious injury. Traumatic brain injury refers specifically to injury which occurs to brain tissue. Falls, blows to the head, and car accidents are all common causes of traumatic brain injury. If the cause of an injury results in a wound that breaks or punctures the skin, this is known as a penetrating injury. Injuries where there is damage, but no break to the skin are called closed injuries. How Do Infants Get Traumatic Brain Injury? Traumatic brain injury can occur during childbirth or due to birth related injuries. This can be due to external physical force or pressure on the head. Birth injuries can occur if the baby’s head gets stuck in the birth canal, or if an instrument, such as forceps, used during birth are applied with too much pressure. Traumatic brain injury is more common in premature babies – as a result, physical therapy treatments for premature babies often covers traumatic brain injury. Signs Of Traumatic Brain Injury In Young Children Signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury in infants are not always easy to recognize. Physical signs may include: \tAbnormal eye movement \tDistorted facial features \tNeck stiffness \tLarge forehead \tSpinal malformation \tSmall skull/head \tTrouble moving the arms, legs, head, and body Other symptoms can include: \tTrouble sleeping \tIrritability \tExcessive crying \tProblems eating \tMuscle spasms \tHigh sensitivity to pain \tDisorientation \tVision problems \tHearing issues Infants with brain damage may also be slower to meet developmental milestones such as sitting up, crawling, and walking. You may notice that some of these symptoms have overlap with other neurological conditions, like Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. That’s why it’s important to get a screening for autism and other issues if you suspect there’s a concern. How Is Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed? There are a wide range of symptoms which can point to traumatic brain injury. Sometimes, the symptoms are so mild they may not lead to a diagnosis. A doctor may look for signs such as an individual's ability to respond to comments, speak, and open their eyes. In cases where there are more evident signs something isn’t right, a doctor can use diagnostic tools such as MRIs or CT scans to determine if there is an injury. They will use these scans to see where the brain damage is located, and if there is any fluid such as bleeding which could be adding to pressure on brain tissue. How Can Pediatric Physical Therapy For Traumatic Brain Injury Help? Traumatic brain injury often results in functional limitations. The specific treatment plan a pediatric physical therapist can offer will vary greatly, depending on the severity of the injury. Your pediatric physical therapist can work with your baby to improve: \tCoordination and balance \tFunctional movement \tMaintaining alertness \tFlexibility \tSitting up, and eventually standing without support (where age appropriate) \tIncreasing strength How Can Speech Therapy For Kids With Traumatic Brain Injury Help? Traumatic brain injury can result in delay or loss of language ability in children. Difficulty forming speech, trouble with finding the right word, incoherent speech, and inability to engage in conversation are a few of the ways this may manifest. Your child’s speech therapist can work with both you and your child to provide treatment for speech related deficiencies and issues. Some of the areas in which they may play a role include: \tScreening for difficulties related to speech, language, and communication \tDeveloping treatment plans designed to maintain speech and language abilities \tEducation aimed at preventing complications \tOffering training on the use of alternative communication (AAC) methods \tWorking in conjunction with other professionals to develop treatment programs \tAdvocacy, especially in situations where issues with communication can be mistaken for problems related to motivation or attitude, particularly in school settings Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today Has your child experienced a traumatic brain injury? Are they struggling to recover, having difficulties with motor skills, or communication? If you are looking for extra support to help with their recovery, book your appointment with District Speech today. We are professional speech and physical therapists serving Washington DC and the surrounding area, and we can help create a treatment plan to help in your child’s recovery.