My child had a concussion when they were younger. Can it be affecting them now?

Did your child had a concussion from a fall or while playing sports when they were younger?

Are they having difficulty in school or with their peers now?

A concussion is an acquired brain injury. It’s also known as a mild traumatic brain injury.

For many children, a concussion resolves after several weeks but others may have long lasting effects that may not even be noticeable until they get older.

We tend to think that children are resilient and bounce back from a brain injury more easily than adults do but that’s not always the case. A child’s brain is still developing so their brains are actually more at risk for damage.

Even a “mild” traumatic brain injury or concussion as it is usually called, can cause difficulties with:

  • memory
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • sleep (either too much or too little)
  • organization
  • planning
  • following directions
  • distractibility
  • impulsive behaviour, etc.

Learning and social difficulties can result from a brain injury so it can often be misdiagnosed as emotional disturbances, mental health issues, learning disabilities or intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It may seem like the child recovered quickly from a brain injury however, when a child is young, their days are structured. They are told when it’s time to eat, sleep, have a bath, do their homework, get up for school, etc.

They don’t need to use some of the higher cognitive skills that can be affected by a brain injury so the impairments may not be as obvious.

As they get older, children and teens need to do more on their own so issues arising from an earlier brain injury may become more noticeable. They may be having trouble fitting in at school. Maybe they aren’t keeping up with their homework or chores without constant reminders and support.

There are some things that can help your child adapt at school. If your child has been diagnosed with a brain injury/concussion talk to your school about making some accommodations to support their learning, such as:

  • providing a quiet space for exams and schoolwork – limits distractions
  • allow for rest breaks
  • reduce the number and size of assignments
  • allow extra time for assignments and exams
  • provide written directions and class notes
  • use an electronic or written calendar/agenda to keep track of assignments and exams
  • regular communication with teachers
  • peer support

*adapted from the GF Strong School Program brochure Teaching Kids with Concussion

If you think your child is struggling because of a brain injury, there are some good resources online to help you and your family understand it better.

Contact Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association at 604-557-1913 or info@fvbia.org for more information about services for families and children with acquired brain injuries.

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