New Study Focuses on Managing Challenging Behavior in Preschool Children Post-Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)August 29, 2017
TBI symptoms can be debilitating and difficult for patients of any age. When the patients are preschool-aged children whose brains, behaviors and skills are skill developing, the challenges can be particularly difficult – not just for the children with TBIs but also for their parents.
Looking to help parents who are facing these challenges, an ongoing study is investigating “the feasibility and acceptability” of an intervention program aimed at “decreasing parent distress and increasing their sense of competence in managing” the difficult behaviors in young children with TBIs.
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Background: The Behavioral Issues Experienced by Preschoolers with TBIs
Well documented by various studies, the behavioral issues that can impact young TBI patients can include (but may not be limited to):
- Inappropriate social behavior
- Anti-social behavior
- Anxiety and stress
- Poor self-regulation.
These issues are reportedly present in about 36 percent of young children with severe TBIs and in about 22 percent of young children with moderate TBIs. Parents of these children “can experience high levels of stress and injury-related burden.” In fact, there is evidence to suggest “that distressed parents are less likely to adopt positive parenting styles” to manage these issues.
Compounding this problem is the fact that behavioral problems in young TBI patients can have negative long-term impacts for the children themselves (like difficulties in the classroom or a propensity to criminal behavior).
Focused on overcoming these issues, researchers are now analyzing how an intervention program known as “Signposts for Building Better Behavior” (Signposts) can help both parents and children better manage TBI-related behavioral issues.
Details of the Study
Entitled Managing challenging behaviour in preschool children post-traumatic brain injury with online clinician support: protocol for a pilot study, this feasibility study includes 30 children and their parents. The children, between 2 and 6 years old:
- Have suffered a TBI within the past two years
- Have been divided into two groups (with their parents included in the same group as their children): One group is participating in the Signposts program, and another is the control group (not participating in the program).
Parents in both groups will reportedly complete questionnaires to evaluate their child’s behavior and share details about their own mental state and sense of parental competency. These questionnaires have been (or will be) completed at the start of the study and various points during the course of the study.
Parents in the Signposts group will also:
- Participate in a “manualized programme” that involves watching videos, reading modules, completing homework exercises and participating in videoconferencing – This program involves both self-guided exercises, group activities and clinician support (via videoconferencing).
- Complete questionnaires regarding their thoughts on the delivery, feasibility and acceptability of the program.
While it remains to be seen how parents and children will fare with (versus without) the Signposts program, researchers have noted that this is “the first [study] to investigate the feasibility of delivering post-child TBI behavioural intervention via videoconferencing.”
The hope is that their findings will “facilitate better access” to programs and treatments that will support TBI recovery and management, “enabling improved long-term outcomes for families.”
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