Action for Brain Injury Week 2013

The Children’s Trust is marking Action for Brain Injury Week (May 13-19) by calling for greater recognition of the often hidden needs of thousands of children and young people with acquired brain injury (ABI). This week we are highlighting draft NHS figures that reveal that around 40,000 children suffer brain injuries every year in the UK. Acquired brain injury is defined as an injury to the brain caused by events after birth, rather than as part of a genetic or congenital disorder.
A young man speaking with a psychologist
Road accidents are a common cause of acquired brain injury in children and young people, but other causes include falls, assaults, meningitis, brain tumours and cardiac arrest. Children can be left with severe disabilities as a result of a brain injury, but it is also often described as a ‘hidden disability’ because many children show no outward signs of their injury and yet struggle to cope with long-term, unseen problems with memory, communication and behaviour2. The Children’s Trust is the UK’s leading charity for children with acquired brain injury, multiple disabilities and complex health needs. We provide rehabilitation, support and information for children and young people with ABI and their families. Dalton Leong, Chief Executive of The Children’s Trust, comments: “There are many thousands of children and young people living in the UK today with the long-term effects of acquired brain injury. "We know that providing them and their families with the right support at the right time can make a huge difference to their lives. “Many families tell us that people don’t always understand the extent of their child’s difficulties because they appear to have made a full physical recovery and the full effects of their injury are hidden. And we often hear of young people experiencing difficulties at school as a result of a brain injury that may have occurred earlier in childhood. “We would like to see earlier identification and support for children with brain injuries to help them succeed in school, with health services following up more consistently as they grow up. The Government’s ongoing reforms of the special educational needs system, which seek to better integrate health and education services, are an opportunity to get this right for a large number of vulnerable children.” The Department of Health has not historically published statistics on the number of children and young people with acquired brain injury. A recent draft NHS document provided the most comprehensive figures from an official source for some time, estimating that around 40,000 children in the UK suffer some kind of brain injury each year. Given that the effects of a brain injury will stay with a child throughout their life, the number of children and young people living with brain injury-related difficulties can be assumed to be many times greater.
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