Columbus Physician Leads Research For Childhood Head Injuries

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Columbus physician Keith Yeates will lead a national study on treatment and outcomes of childhood head injuries.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU News)
Columbus physician Keith Yeates will lead a national study on treatment and outcomes of childhood head injuries.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU News)

A Columbus physician will head a national study of children with traumatic brain injuries. The study is designed to document effects of treatment of head injuries in children between the ages of 8 and 18. Doctor Keith Yeates  at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says  too little is known about long-term effects of brain injuries in children.

“And its almost as if you sort of injured the brain early in development and made it harder for it to learn. But there’s still a lot of actual science that needs to be done to understand why there are those age-related differences in outcomes. ” Says Yeates.

The study is designed to document effects of treatment of head injuries in children between the ages of 8 and 18. Dr Yeates says children’s hospitals in Seattle, Houston, and Philadelphia will also participate in the $2,750,000 study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Click the LISTEN Icon for to hear  excerpts from WOSU News interview with Doctor Yeates.

Yeates: There’s a real paucity of research on the effectiveness of rehabilitation, the effectiveness of different types of therapies and other interventions. So we don’t have as much information as we’d like to be able to give to parents about what actually works.

Q) When you say there’s a paucity of information, is there really a knowledge gap about the treatment of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) in children?

Yeates: Yeah, there really is. We’ve managed to garner a decent amount of evidence about the effectiveness of rehabilitation in adults with traumatic brain injury. But, we don’t have the same knowledge base with children and we can’t assume that what we know about adults is applicable to children.

Q) What will be the range of head injuries studied? I mean are we talking about bumps to the head all the way up to lacerations and invasive injuries? What will be the range of injuries you try to study?

Yeates: In this particular study we’re focusing on children who are hospitalized as a result of their injuries. So, these are injuries that are on the more severe end of the spectrum because they are the ones that are associated with the most morbidity, the worst outcomes. They’re the ones that are most costly to society and the most disruptive to children’s lives.

Q) In terms of brain development, what’s your hypothesis in the sense that the quicker treatment of childhood injuries improve function later as adults. I mean, is that kind of the hypothesis you’re working on?

Yeates: Well, we think there are alot of different things that could make a difference in terms of outcomes. But, certainly the timing of intervention, the type of intervention that children get. We do know that the outcomes for children who are injured younger tend to be worse than older kids. So we’re particularly interested to see if we can identify things that make a difference in the outcomes of the younger children. And of course the adolescents as well.

Q) What is the most common head injury to children? Is it falling down steps or something? What is it that brings children to the hospital?

Yeates: It depends a little on their age actually. In younger kids it tends to be falls. In school age children it’s often sporting injuries or pedestrian motor vehicle crashes. And in teen-agers, unfortunately it continues to be motor vehicle crashes, particularly for more severe injuries.

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