The Children’s Trust launches campaign to raise awareness of Acquired Brain Injury
As children return to school after the half term break, The Children’s Trust announces that every year around 5,000  schoolchildren in England sustain injuries that can leave them with a hidden disability, which is the equivalent of 157  classes of children .
Acquired brain injury (ABI) can be caused by a traumatic injury to the head, perhaps sustained in a road accident or a fall. ABI is often called a “hidden disability” and can have devastating effects. ABI can affect a child’s memory, physical skills, ability to concentrate in class, develop relationships with peers and teachers and even alter their personality.
All too often the effects of brain damage go unrecognised. On the surface these children look and behave normally until they are put under pressure or face a situation they are unaccustomed to, such as the transition from primary to secondary school. The Children’s Trust, a charity for children with multiple disabilities, can provide help and support to these children.
According to The Children’s Trust, head injury is just one cause of ABI. There are many other causes of acquired and lasting brain damage in children which hospital figures do not account for, including choking, near-drowning or severe illnesses such as meningitis or brain tumour. The true incidence of acquired brain injury in children is likely to be much higher.
The charity offers individual assessments and a specialist community support service to children and families who have been affected.
Fiona Adcock, spokesperson for the Trust states: “Getting used to the transition to secondary school can be difficult for any young person, but for those with an acquired brain injury it’s around this time of year that any difficulties they have in thinking, making friends and managing their behaviour in class can start to have a major negative impact on their lives. Without the kind of support that The Children's Trust offers, they can become isolated, fall behind and may end up being excluded. It’s vital that children with ABI are diagnosed and helped to reach their full potential.”
CASE STUDY Jon, from Cornwall, aged 15yrs has first hand experience of ABI:
Jon, suffered a head injury after being knocked down by a car. He made a good physical recovery; however upon his return to school he became tired very quickly, had memory problems and was easily overwhelmed by noise and crowds, leading to behavioural problems. His behaviour became such a problem that Jon was excluded from school in February 2007.
After several months, Jon’s paediatrician diagnosed him with an acquired brain injury (ABI) and referred him to The Children's Trust’s Community Support Team. They carefully pieced together how Jon’s brain injury was affecting him and how he could be helped and worked with his school to show them ways to support him in class. Jon’s mum described their involvement as, “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Jon has since returned to school and with the insight and strategies provided by The Children's Trust’s Community Support Team, hopes to overcome his problems and reach his full potential.
The Children’s Trust is campaigning to raise awareness of acquired brain injury amongst parents and teachers because the effects can be misdiagnosed or attributed to bad behaviour.
The Trust is meeting with MPs this week and is calling for more detailed statistics to be made available so that the true extent of this hidden disability can be uncovered.
For more information and details of how to recognise the symptoms of ABI log onto http://www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk.
1- 4,724- NICE figures published 3rd October 2007
2- Based on an average class size of 30 children
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