Child Brain Injury Trust launch new Early Years Programme
Lisa Turan, CEO of the Child Brain Injury Trust talks to Neuro Convention about a new initiative launched in January 2019 to address a specific need within paediatric brain injury.
“One in thirty, that is how many children across the UK will be affected by traumatic brain injury each year. This figure excludes brain injury acquired through illness such as meningitis, so in reality the figures are much higher”, explains Lisa.
Of those who experience a traumatic brain injury in childhood we know that children under 5 years old are overrepresented. A study in 2016 (Epidemiology of children with head injury: a national overview. L Trethan et al 2016) showed that of 5,700 UK children with head injuries, aged 0-15, over half were in the 0-5 age group.
“This isn’t surprising as at this age children are determined explorers, with little awareness of risk. We know that the most common cause of injury within this age group is falls” explains Lisa.
The same study showed that while just over half the incidents took place at home, and a great deal is done to alert parents and carers to potential dangers in the home, with awareness campaigns around the dangers of blind cords and bathing young children safely. However a further 15% took place at nursery or school. All parents will have signed an accident book at some time, nursery staff will inform you what happened, but can they tell parents what to look out for?
To help address this need, the Child Brain Injury Trust, a national charity supporting children and families affected by acquired brain injury, have developed a CPD accredited training course specifically for early years practitioners. The training programme is offered to all early years staff right across the UK.
“A child’s brain is not fully formed when they are born, and it will take them up to 25 years to fully mature and develop skills that make us ‘human’. The brain will have development spurts, and at specific stages we expect that certain abilities will come onstream. Because of this ‘sleeper’ effect any injury in early years may not become apparent for some time” explains Lisa.
This is especially so for the skills that form the higher level abilities of ‘executive function’ – problem solving, planning, organising, empathy, time management and so on. Many of these functions do not appear fully until a child is in their early teens; therefore if a child has a head injury in their early years, the effects of any injury may take days, months or even years to show.
Therefore it is important that those practitioners working in early years settings are aware of the impact of “bumps” to the head, and know about the potential impact of life threatening illnesses such us meningitis, encephalitis etc.
By working through the online training, practitioners in early years settings will enable their nursery or day care unit to be recognised as “Head Injury Aware”. This means that the participant will receive a certificate of completion, together with resources for parents about head bumps, incident slips to be given to parents/guardians about any bumps to the head, and sticker for the children.
The Early Years programme is just the latest in a long line of training resources developed by the Trust, from e-learning on a wide range of topics and downloadable factsheets through to workshops and masterclasses the Child Brain Injury Trust provides a vital resource for health, social care and educational practitioners.