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The Darkness Within

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury, known in the medical community as a TBI, is relatively self-explanatory; Damage done to the brain, skull, and/or brain stem in such that this event has a lasting impact to the body. Most notably on one's personality and behaviors. Young individuals between the ages of 1-e as well as 15-18 are greatest risk of TBI's, and that number only increases when factoring in sports, active lifestyles, and extracurriculars. A far more unpleasant factor in these statistics is an abusive home life, drug use, and physical dangers.

The Impact

The effects of a TBI extend beyond the physical. As mentioned above, such an event can lead to personality shifts, as well as behavioral. These usually occur in a negative sense, as TBI victims statistically become more violent and unpredictable. This could have a substantially more adverse effect on developing children. "Injury in childhood and adolescence can, therefore, lead to impulsivity, poor socio-communication skills, and concomitant externalizing behaviors. Injury at this life stage could well disrupt the development of prosocial life roles. Such patterns of behavior could underlie a drift from the classroom to the courtroom." (Williams, et al. 2018).

Real-World Implications

Behavioral problems in childhood, while not a sole indicator of immorality, are statistically more prevalent in incarcerated populations. Estimates put the percentage of people with TBIs in juvenile detention as high as 30% of the population. The cognitive damage that lasts years after an incident have a detrimental effect on the development of young minds. Impulsivity is a large part of traumatic brain injuries, as damage to the frontal cortex of the brain makes it difficult to regulate impulses and emotions. Irritability goes hand-in-hand with said damages, and traits like these are often cited in cases of convictions.

To expand on such, child offenders who spend time in juvenile detention facilities and the like only suffer further from their TBI symptoms while detained. Lack of adequate medical care in such facilities only leads to oversight and neglect when it comes to said injuries. Many TBI victims require medication in conjunction with sufficient mental health services, which can be difficult to not only obtain, but keep routine of when in the juvenile system. "Once young offenders with TBI have entered the justice system, it is likely they will remain within it or return. adults who had had severe TBI as children were significantly poorer at emotion perception than controls; this was associated with reduced volume of the posterior corpus callosum, presence of frontal pathology, lower socioeconomic status, and less-intimate family environment." (Williams, 2015).

I found a fascinating chart detailing six different classifications of traumatic brain injury.

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