Pediatric Neurosurgery

Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries can affect any part of the brain and may be mild (concussion) or severe enough to cause death. Children will be transported to an emergency room after a motor vehicle accident if the EMTs suspect a possible injury, even if they have no symptoms at the time. Symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, sensitivity to light/noise, irritability, weakness, numbness and seizures. Depending on the symptoms and your child's exam, they may or may not require a CT scan to look for possible intracranial bleeding. Since symptoms can worsen over time, your child will be monitored for at least a few hours. If the injury is severe they may require emergency surgery to relieve pressure on the brain, and monitoring in the ICU. The brain injury often gets worse over the first 2-3 days because of swelling, and intensive treatments may be required.

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Spinal Cord Injury

Children can suffer spinal cord injuries either from sports or vehicular injuries. Depending upon the level of the injury, only the legs (paraparesis) or the entire body (quadriparesis) may lose strength. If the spinal cord is incomplete, the bowels and bladder may still be functional, and chances of recovery are much better. These patients are prone to multiple complications, and should be managed by a team of physicians including neurosurgery, orthopedics, rehab medicine, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Recovery can continue for at least 2 years after the injury, but has the best chances if intensive treatment is started early.

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