The young brain is particularly vulnerable to injury and one of the first visible signs of social difficulties in young children is a decline in their relationship with their parents.
The incidence of concussion is particularly high in the preschool years — up to around 2% of children aged 0 to 5 years per year.
A new study by researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine mother-child research hospital (affiliated with the University of Montreal) reveals the adverse effects of mild traumatic brain injury on the quality parent-child relationships.
“The young brain is particularly vulnerable to injury because the skull is still thin and malleable. In the months following the injury, one of the first visible signs of social difficulties in young children is a decline in their relationship with their parents,” said Miriam Beauchamp a researcher at Sainte-Justine, professor of psychology at the University of Montreal and senior author of the study.
Knowing that good parent-child relationships are synonymous with better social skills later in life, the researchers stress the importance for parents to monitor behavior changes in their child in the weeks that follow the trauma and adjust accordingly during this period.
Given the relatively limited social and cognitive skills of preschoolers, a concussion at this age can slow the development of new abilities, for example, certain communication skills.
“The quality of parent-child interactions following concussion was significantly reduced compared to non-injured children,” said Gabrielle Lalonde, BSc, a doctoral student and first author of the study.
“If, as parents, you notice the effects of the accident on your own psychological state, or behavioral changes in your child that make them interact differently and that persist more than a few weeks, you should talk to your family doctor or a neuropsychologist,” said Beauchamp.
Source: Newswise.com: Concussion Can Alter Parent-Child Relationships
+ Further reading: Concussion: Why Kids are Most at Risk