Traumatic Brain Injury in Childhood: From Toddlers to Teens
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common, chronic and complex health problem. Known in its mildest form as “concussion,” it results in more than 50,000 pediatric emergency department visits per year in Canada alone. Children and adolescents with TBI often suffer cognitive, psychological, social and behavioural problems. Even mild injuries can significantly disrupt a child’s ability to function.
Dr. Miriam Beauchamp, Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury, is investigating the cognitive and social consequences of pediatric TBI and trying to determine how we can predict outcomes. She and her research team are also exploring what changes occur in the integrity of the brain during TBI, and how individual psychological (e.g., stress) or biological (e.g., genetics) predispositions affect a person’s recovery. These findings will inform the development of immersive, technological, game-based treatment tools that are engaging for young people.
Beauchamp’s work covers the pediatric period from birth to age 18, but with greater focus on children under the age of 6—a group that is particularly sensitive to the effects of TBI, since it can disrupt their ability to learn new skills. Her research will help us better understand how problems develop after TBI among the youngest and most vulnerable children.
Beauchamp’s findings will provide a complete picture of TBI across the pediatric spectrum and help ensure children, adolescents and their families have the resources they need to prevent problems, foster healthy development and enjoy quality of life.