The teenage brain is not fully developed, yet it’s not as resilient to injury as the brain of a younger child. This creates special concerns for teens suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Parents can help their children cope by understanding the issues that most affect teens learning to cope with the effects of TBI.
While much of the functional loss following TBI can be recovered, the process is lifelong. Injured teens with Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) face great challenges. They struggle with unreliable memory, chronic fatigue, mood swings, hypersensitivity to stimuli, plus interference with biological cycles like sleep and appetite. All this is made worse by the unavoidable stress of living an adolescent life, making teenagers especially vulnerable to TBI complications.
Even healthy teens face many behavioral and emotional challenges, such as:
- Mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Reduced self-esteem
- Restlessness and impatience
- Difficulty with self-monitoring, and social responses
- Difficulty relating to others
- Irritability and anger
Many of these difficulties stem from the biology and chemistry of the teen brain, which processes decisions in the amygdale, a part of the brain that is more reactive and impulsive than rational. Judgment and discrimination are already difficult, even in healthy teenage minds.
Teens living with TBI lose a lifetime of learning and personal growth and must learn it all again. They may need to adjust to new learning styles just to gain back their previous skills. Growing up a second time is only made a little easier by the fact that those with TBI may learn old lessons more quickly. Unfortunately, new lessons will not come easily.
Teenagers may need to learn to drive again, but must overcome decreased reaction times, excitability and learning difficulties to gain back this skill and few things are more important to teens than driving.
Teens already grapple with issues of identity and social displacement, problems exacerbated exponentially for brain-injured teens. The loss of important social skills may leave teens feeling isolated and disconnected. Teens who already feel awkward may find themselves so much more insecure in the face of complex social adjustments. Difficulty paying attention is another symptom that makes all of these complications worse.
All of these challenges make it harder for adolescents to maintain a reasonably normal appearance. Putting in so much extra effort can be exhausting, resulting in chronic fatigue or worsening headaches. Suddenly straddled with bigger challenges and fewer skills, brain-injured teens need their families’ support more than ever.
If your child suffers from TBI, you may have a claim for damages that can help you pay for important services that can help your teen recover from the injuries more quickly. Your child may need tutors, therapy and many doctor visits to help cope with the long and slow healing process.
Part of supporting your teen will be advocating for his or her rights. Contact our office for a free case evaluation and consultation. We will help you find the justice your child deserves.