Rise In Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Teens

The media have drawn attention to the problem of brain injuries in teens by focusing on the increased likelihood of receiving such injuries from participation in contact sports like football and hockey. After all, males between the ages of 14 and 24 are at the highest risk of sustaining a brain injury. Team sports are not the cause of the majority of those injuries, though; teenagers are far more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury during a motor vehicle collision than a football game.

According to information provided by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, about 30 percent of teens injured in auto accidents suffer from concussions, skull fractures, subdural hematomas and traumatic brain injuries. The data were based on a new study commissioned by the hospital that reviewed serious injuries sustained by more than 55,000 teenage drivers and passengers involved in car accidents in 2009 and 2010.

Lasting Effects of Brain Injuries

Researchers are voicing concerns over the "burden of motor vehicle crash-related brain injuries on families and the Nation's health care system." The study further reports that "full recovery from serious head injuries is often not achievable."

Dennis R. Durbin, MD, MSCE, lead author of the report and co-scientific director for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, states that there are often significant life-long effects of these types of injuries on both the teenage victims themselves and their families.

Serious Injuries Can Impair Brain Development

A brain injury is defined as a physiological disruption of brain function that results from trauma to the head. It is usually the result of a rapid movement of the head followed by an abrupt stop, which causes the brain to shift within the encasement of the skull.

The initial distinction between a mild and moderate brain injury can be difficult, particularly if there are no outward signs of trauma. Even so, a relatively "mild" brain injury like a concussion could possibly lead to permanent disability or mental deficits. Teenagers and children are more susceptible to long-lasting effects of brain injuries because their brains are still developing. Those who suffer from moderate to severe brain injuries are likely to endure physical, cognitive and behavioral impairment for months, years or the rest of their lives following the accident.

Traumatic brain injuries can cause such varied effects as:

  • Speech, vision, hearing and other sensory impairments
  • Chronic headaches
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Attention and concentration issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of cognitive function or analytical reasoning skills

Managing these impairments can be stressful and expensive. If you or a teenaged loved one is injured as the result of another driver's negligence, compensation may be available to cover medical and rehabilitative costs as well as pain and suffering. As a result, it is best to discuss your unique situation with an experienced car accident attorney in order to best preserve your legal rights and remedies.