Could you recognize the signs of a student who may be suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI)? You may think that it is simple, but it can be missed due to symptoms that mimic other things. In addition to this, the pain and trauma of an incident may overshadow what may happen sometime after the incident. While teachers and therapists are not able to make a diagnosis, they are able to tell families if they see something unusual with a student. Traumatic brain injury can cause a wide range of physical and psychological effects. These may alter how the child acts and works in an academic setting, which should be reported to those at home.
What is traumatic brain injury? TBI is when there is a blow or other injury to a person’s head or body. The results are based on multiple factors which cause damage to brain cells. The cause may not simply be from their head being hit. A fall to the ground could jolt their body in a way that their brain moves back and forth inside the skull. Explosions can cause a lot of problems, as well as when an object penetrates the skull. If the damage isn’t detected quickly, the brain can swell, bleeding can happen around it, and blood clots can alter the oxygen supply to cells.
School nurses need to be aware if a child has had any of the following events take place. This includes having a severe a fall, being in a car accident, having a sports injury, or being near an explosion. If they have been through any of these, then you need to look for a variety of symptoms which may occur. Symptoms may be physical, sensory, or cognitive in nature. For children, it may be harder for them to explain what they are feeling from headaches, sensory issues, and confusion. Adults should look out for changes in eating and sleeping habits, increased irritability, and inability to focus. Other possible symptoms include depressed mood and loss of interest in previously favorite things.
Schools and clinicians need to have a protocol ahead of time on how to notify parents if there is a concern. Keep notes of changes in behaviors and when they may happen. Explain to families what has been seen. You may not tell them you suspect a traumatic brain trauma, but can strongly suggest they bring their child to see a doctor.