Studies uncover long-term effects of traumatic brain injury

February 10, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- Doctors are beginning to get answers to the question that every parent whose child has had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) wants to know: What will my child be like 10 years from now?

In a study to be presented Friday Feb. 10 at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Physiatrists in Las Vegas, researchers from Cincinnati Children's will present research on long-term effects of TBI -- an average of seven years after injury. Patients with mild to moderate brain injuries are two times more likely to have developed attention problems, and those with severe injuries are five times more likely to develop secondary ADHD. These researchers are also finding that the family environment influences the development of these attention problems.

More than 630,000 children and teenagers in the United States are treated in emergency rooms for TBI each year. But predictors of recovery following TBI, particularly the roles of genes and environment, are unclear. These environmental factors include family functioning, parenting practices, home environment, and socioeconomic status. Researchers at Cincinnati Children's are working to identify genes important to recovery after TBI and understand how these genes may interact with environmental factors to influence recovery.

Using neuroimaging and other technologies, scientists are also learning more about brain structure and connectivity related to persistent symptoms after TBI. In a not-yet-published Cincinnati Children's study, for example, researchers investigated the structural connectivity of brain networks following aerobic training. The recovery of structural connectivity they discovered suggests that aerobic training may lead to improvement in symptoms.

Over the past two decades, investigators at Cincinnati Children's have conducted a series of studies to develop and test interventions to improve cognitive and behavioral outcomes following pediatric brain injury. They developed an innovative web-based program that provides family-centered training in problem-solving, communication, and self-regulation.
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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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