Some insurance company doctors say that young brains are more resilient. These doctors testify at trial that, when it is a young child who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, the prospects for a good recovery are brighter than they would be if the child were older.

New research shows that the opposite may be true.  A traumatic brain injury may throw off a child’s normal developmental timetable. Though the child may experience encouraging improvement in the first two years after an injury, after that, it may be that the child never really catch up to his peers. Rather, he may simply fall further behind over time. Because younger children have more development ahead of them, brain injuries at younger age is a "double hazard," the researchers noted.  That means that the same injury can cause much more trouble for a 4 year old than a 12 year old.

The study was published earlier this year in Neuropsychology, 2009; 23 (3) (subscription required).