Researchers have gained a new understanding of pediatric brain injuries and their recovery over the last decade, allowing professionals to understand that recovery may be a lifelong process not only for the injured child, but also to the child’s family, friends and healthcare providers.

A recently published special edition of NeuroRehabilition features a discussion by leading experts on the latest efforts of advancing medical and rehabilitative services from moving children from medical care into rehabilitation to reintegrate them back into the community.

Guest editors, Peter D. Patrick, Ph.D., M.S., Associate Professor Emeritus of the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, and Ronald C. Savage, EdD, Chairman, North American Brain Injury Society and International Pediatric Brain Injury Society, explained:

“Recovery extends well beyond the technical period of rehabilitation. Children, adolescents, and families struggle to regain the momentum of their life so as to reduce problems, increase opportunity, and support increased participation in work, play, home, and relationships.”

According to the experts, children who suffer a brain injury do the majority of their recovery at home, in school, and in the community, beyond medical surveillance.

They note that “family-centered” approaches to developing interventions are emerging. For instance, Dr. Damith T. Woods and colleagues reveal that a new telephone support program has been established in order to help parents deal with difficult behavior associated to brain injury.

Often children and teenagers who suffered brain injuries have low self-esteem and lack of confidence due to difficulty coping to their injuries and altered abilities.

According to a study conducted by Carol A. Hawley, self-esteem is considerably lower among children with traumatic brain injury than normal children. In addition, Hawley states that rehabilitation strategies promote a sense of self-worth for these children.

One the major milestones of recovery is re-entry into school, say the experts. This issue underlines several different efforts designed to help children improve and return to a positive developmental trajectory.

Lucia Willadino Braga and her team describes a program based on cooperative learning. According to Braga the program helps preadolescents with brain injury develop metacognitive strategies and improve self-concept, thus helping them in their social relationships. In addition, Beth Wicks, describes a innovative program in Britain that translates successful adult vocational programs into educational rehabilitation programs for children.

Dr. Patrick and Dr. Savage explained:

“Over the years and in multiple places around the world, innovative and creative efforts have slowly revealed effective interventions for recovery. Increasingly the interventions are evidence-based. This issue is a contribution to the effort to improve outcomes for children and families.”

Written by Grace Rattue