Emotional, behavioural & psychological impact of childhood stroke & brain injury

We recently attended the Childhood Stroke Parent Support and Information Day in Brimingham so that we could offer our resources on brain injury- one of the consequences of stroke.
Maria & Clair from the Brain Injury Hub at childhood stroke event
There were some fantastics speakers at the event, run by the Stroke association and it was an opportunity to meet parents and offer them a copy of our books on brain injury. Order Heads Up, Tim-Tron and other books here.  We learned a lot from the specialists in the field and also by chatting to the families. 

Emotional, behavioural & psychological issues: an expert's view 

Clinical psychologist, Shauna Kearney spoke about the huge range of emotional, behavioural and psychological issues family face after stroke. Here are some of the things she highlighted as the factors most affecting families: • The diagnosis itself is traumatic
• Emotional problems
• Lack of information
• Difficult to access therapies
• Impacts the whole family
• Bullying and being accepted by friends
• Hidden difficulties are not recognised by schools Families also talked about how support from other families affected by stroke helped them to cope with these difficulties and the increased need for support for the child's siblings. » Read Daisy's and mum, Eileen's story of stroke and brain injury. 

Patterns of behavioural problems

Studies show that up to 44% of children are left with behavioural problems after a stroke and often these show themselves at home rather than at school making it particularly hard for parents.
The event was run by the Stroke Association
This is thought to be because school holds a structure which can never be replicated at home. Also the school day often causes the child to return home tired which often leads to behavioural problems.

Self-esteem and social interaction

Shauna emphasised that from her experience that family is key to a child's recovery and how the child socially adjusts following their stroke. Unconditional love and a consistent, calm environment are crucial in helping a child achieve the best outcomes possible, she says.  Younger children seem to develop better self-esteem and social interactions following a stroke. It is thought this is because the stroke becomes part of their identity whereas older children had more of a sense of identity before the stroke which is then changed. » Molly's tale of reovery after suffering a stroke, aged six.  The child's own personality and natural resilience also has an impact on their outcome. One of the key concepts which Shauna talked about was that the journey after stroke is an emotional one for the whole family. She described it like a series of interlocking cogs constantly moving and affecting each other as a family experiences a range of emotions including: • Initial worry, fear uncertainty
• Anger
• Grief
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Acceptance of a 'new me' The main point we picked up from the day is that stroke affects the entire family and it is crucial that everyone gets the information and support they need at the right time. The information day was a real success and highlighted the importance of events like this one in meeting this need for families. We'd like to say a big thank you to Anna Panton from the Stroke Association for organising the day and inviting us along.
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