Developmental stages

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There are many developmental stages and milestones from birth to adulthood.

For example milestones for babies relate to the baby’s ability to move, see, hear, communicate and interact with others. There are physical, motor, cognitive, language and social milestones for each age group from babies to adults.

The development and functioning of the brain are some of the essential ingredients for meeting milestones.

‘Formerly, it was a widely-held, but unsubstantiated belief that children were wonderfully resilient and could bounce back even after a severe brain injury and that in general, the prognosis for functional recovery of previously-learned skills is better the younger the child is when the injury is acquired.

‘However, more recent research suggests that younger children are just as, or perhaps even more, vulnerable to the effects of brain injury than people who are injured in later childhood. Moreover, the prognosis for acquiring new skills is worse the younger the child is at the time of the brain injury.

‘Children's brains are still undergoing significant development. While most brain maturation occurs in the early years, birth through age 5, five peak maturation periods in normally developing children have been identified. These peaks occur at approximately 3-5 years, 8-10 years, 14-15 years, 17-19 years, and 21-22 years.’14

After brain injury, these maturation peaks may be significantly affected depending on the age of the child, the type of brain injury and the region of the brain affected.

Exposure to experience and to more formal learning through education allows neural pathways to develop new connections throughout young adulthood.

If damage to the brain occurs at any time during brain development in childhood and adolescence, then the normally occurring neuronal growth may be disrupted impacting on the child’s development of skills and slow the pace of their development over time.

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