Research Reports - The invisible brain injury: The importance of identifying deficits following brain injury in children with intellectual disability

Volume 30, Number 3 / 2012

Introduction: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is common during childhood. However, most of the extant literature about outcomes following childhood TBI is based on children who were functioning "normally" prior to the injury event. But, with the increasing community integration of children with Intellectual Disability (ID) there is an urgent need for specific information regarding problems following TBI for this group.

Method: Using a case study, this paper presents an overview of problems faced by these children who subsequently experience a TBI event, and examines questions pertinent to this dual diagnosis.

Outcomes: In the case study presented, despite supposedly having access to an internationally acclaimed comprehensive no fault accident compensation and rehabilitation system, a lack of assessment, intervention and support was evident for both the child and the family following a severe TBI because he had pre-existing ID.

Conclusions: This case study highlights the need for clinicians to consider the impact of TBI for children with ID, to avoid incorrectly attributing TBI symptoms to pre-existing problems. Children with ID are at increased risk; appropriate treatment plans are vital to maximize quality of life for them and their caregivers.

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