Statistics indicate that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading death and disability causes in both children and infants. These injuries are a result of common and in most cases unintentional but negligent causes such as falls and road accidents. Some cases, however, are due to child abuse in infants and assaults in young children and adolescents. To minimize the effects of TBI on these children and ensure a successful recovery, proper nutrition has to be observed. According to the Paediatric Guidelines 2003, it is important to initiate nutrition within 72 hours after the traumatic brain injury.
The appropriate feeding time and route of feeding have to be determined for the TBI patients in determining the proper nutrition methods for the patients. There are two types of nutrition: the parenteral and the enteral. The parenteral nutrition involves getting the needed nutrients into the body through veins. Enteral nutrition on the other hand is delivering a complete feed that contains the needed nutrients directly to the small intestines or stomach. The nutrition method depends on the type of injury incurred by the child.
- Nutrition timing
It is recommended that early nutrition be introduced to any infant or child who has experienced TBI. This will increase immune competency, limit bacterial and intensive care unit infections while forestalling the breakdown of protein and energy (fat) stores. Most studies show that the most important thing is the timing of the feeding rather than the route of feeding. Close monitoring of the patient is, however, crucial to prevent overfeeding or underfeeding.
- Nutrition Provision of Calories
To provide adequate nutrition support for children with TBI, an accurate estimation of their caloric needs is required. Persistent under-feeding of the patients may result in poor healing of wounds and impaired functions of body organs. A child’s caloric needs can be estimated using the different strategies available. For critically ill patients, more calories may be required.
Calories provide the energy needed by the child with TBI to ensure normal body functioning. The calories are needed to ensure the child’s heart keeps beating and their lungs continue breathing without any issues. However, excessive induction of calories into the patient’s body can lead to obesity. Moderation is, therefore, key in this case.
- Nutrition Provision of Proteins
Protein metabolism in young TBI patients is high especially in the days after the injury. It is related to the severity of the injury. Most of these patients eliminate urinary nitrogen in excessive amounts. This results in the need for aggressive protein supplementation in most cases.
The inclusion of proteins in the nutrition program has in the past been shown to reduce infection rates among the patients and facilitated their rate of recovery. This is because proteins are essential in the functioning of the body. They transport oxygen to the cells and facilitate the rebuilding of cells after a traumatic experience.
Routine monitoring of the patients should be performed to ensure their safety. An adequate supply of water is necessary for the patients to enable proper absorption of the amino acids into the system. The water supply should be without glucose to avoid cases of overfeeding.
- Nutrition provision of Fluids and Electrolytes
Although often overlooked, fluid therapy is crucial in the recovery process of infant and children TBI patients. It ensures proper nutrition through fluid resuscitation. According to the Trauma Foundation Guidelines, the safest fluid choice in most TBI cases for fluid resuscitation purposes is saline. This is because the risk of bleeding as a result of its use is minimal as compared to other fluid choices available.
Children require more fluids and electrolytes due to their high metabolic rates. Additionally, their surface to weight ratio is greater than that of adults and hence their bodies experience more water loss. The Holliday-Segar Method is used to determine their fluid requirements. This ensures that the right amount of fluids needed by the child’s body are administered.
Overall, nutrition is important in childhood TBI for growth purposes and cellular repair in their crucial developmental stages. If your child has been involved in an accident, contact GreeningLaw, P.C. to receive the right compensation for a life-long recovery.