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Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Understanding your child’s brain injury and the world of rehabilitation can be overwhelming for any parent. The Pediatric Program at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital welcomes and encourages family involvement and strives to offer information, support, and care to you and your child.

Brain Injury in Children & Adolescents

The effect of injury and recovery in a child differs from the adult depending on the child’s stage of growth and development at the time of injury. The child’s brain is only partly developed at birth and continues to grow and develop for several years. It is estimated that 50% of brain growth occurs by age one. Near age six, 90% of the child’s brain has developed. Full maturity is reached near the age of ten. Therefore, the child’s level of brain development is a significant factor in determining how trauma might affect the brain and its functions.

Cause of Brain Injury

Brain injury or head trauma is a leading cause of injury in children. The most common causes of head trauma in children, ages 0-14 years, include:

  • Falls
  • Auto accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Recreational activities
  • Near drowning
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Assaults (shaking or physical abuse, stabbing, shooting, clubbing)

Recovery Following Brain Injury

Each child’s recovery from brain injury is unique. There are many factors that affect recovery including: Location and extent of injury to the brain 

  • Length of coma
  • Extent of other injuries to the body 
  • The child’s general level of health
  • The child’s personality and learning style
  • The child’s level of development (physical, social, emotional, thinking and communication skills) prior to the injury
  • The support and involvement of family and friends

Therefore, recovery from brain injury for a specific child is difficult to predict, especially during the first 12-24 months after the injury. The brain injury may affect how well the child retains old skills and learns new ones. Each child’s team of nurses and therapists will work with the child to regain skills that the child had before the injury or to teach the child how to compensate for  loss of skills. They will also work with the child to teach them new ways of learning.

The rate of recovery for each child also varies. In general, children show the fastest and greatest amount of progress in the first six to twelve months after the injury. After that time, progress may be more gradual, but can continue for five years, and even longer, after the injury.

Children also tend to show spurts of progress in some areas while other areas may lag behind. For instance, during one time period, a child may make greater gains in physical skills such as standing, walking, etc. At other times, there may be greater gains in communication skills. These variations in a child’s recovery are similar to the peaks and valleys in a child’s normal growth and development.

Throughout your child’s rehabilitation hospitalization the therapists, nurses, and doctor will be available to talk with you about your child’s strengths,weaknesses, and goals for improvement.

Deaton, Ann, Pediatric Head Trauma, A Guide for Families, 1987
Recovery Following Brain Injury


Pediatric Brain Injury Patient Stories

While Benjamin suffered a traumatic brain injury, he's well on the way to recovery. Read Benjamin's story...

Five year old Reese suffered a brain injury in a snowmobile accident. Read Reese's story...


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