Programs & Services

Treating Neurotrauma & TBI in Children


The Neurotrauma team at Phoenix Children's Hospital cares for children who have suffered a traumatic brain or spine injury. The Neurotrauma Program combines the talents from two of our Centers of Excellence - the Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children's Hospital and the Pediatric Trauma Center, which is the only verified Level 1 (highest level) Pediatric Trauma Center in Arizona.

When a child is severely injured in a car accident and suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the ambulance crew could be making its way to Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Trauma Center.

Our Level 1 (highest level) Pediatric Trauma Center has emergency room nurses and physician specialists who are experienced with spine and brain injuries in children. The equipment in the Trauma Center is designed for children – not for larger sized adults - so everything they need is waiting for them. And since Phoenix Children’s Hospital is deeply involved with cutting-edge research, the patient at the Trauma Center will receive the most up-to-date treatments.

Stabalizing the Neurotrauma Patient

Blood Flow

Once a neurotraumatic event occurs, the Trauma Center staff does not work on reversing the damage, but rather on stabilizing the patient’s oxygen flow to the brain. Much attention is spent on ensuring that the body and brain receives adequate blood flow, and that blood pressure is maintained. A body will often react to any trauma by a drop in blood pressure, but that can have a devastating impact on brain cells that need a steady flow of blood supply to help in the healing and recovery process. The Trauma Center nurses use intravenous fluids, medication, and elevation of the head to keep the vascular system of the neurotrauma patient working smoothly.

Body Temperature

After a severe injury, the body will react to the stress with a fluctuating body temperature, so the Trauma Center staff will monitor body temperature carefully. A higher body temperature can rob brain cells of precious nutrients and oxygen flow. Phoenix Children’s Hospital has been on the forefront of research into the use of hypothermia (deliberately lowered body temperature) as a way to slow down the damage to brain cells and cut the risk of brain swelling.

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