Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 January 2010
Trauma remains a significant societal and public health problem in the world, especially in children. It is the leading cause of death and disability accounting for over 50% of the deaths in the pediatric population. Head trauma occurs in the majority of these cases and is a major factor affecting both mortality and outcome. There are frequent long-term cognitive, motor and behavioral dysfunctions in severely injured children, even in those children who have suffered mild or moderate head injuries. However, determining the prognosis and outcome following head injury in children has been difficult. Recently, much has been learned about how children respond acutely to traumatic brain injury but relatively little is known about the differences in long-term outcome and prognosis in the different age ranges and among individuals.
In reviewing the prognosis and recovery potential of children following brain injury, several aspects of childhood impact on the developing brain that are unique and which must be taken into consideration. It is critical to try and understand the effect that a brain injury has during the different stages of brain development. In addition, the degree of neuroplasticity from birth and early brain growth to the final mature adult brain will also alter the final prognosis. Lastly, the impact of an intervention may differ at different stages of maturation.