A mistaken optimism persists that outcomes for childhood acquired brain injury (ABI) are in general superior to those for similar injuries in adults, a misconception based on naive concepts of greater ‘plasticity’ in the immature brain. The challenges of rehabilitation after ABI, of bringing children ‘back’ to face the ‘future’ of completing childhood development with an injured brain, are reviewed in the context of the science of brain recovery from injury. Unrealistic expectations of recovery may cause subsequent events to be perceived as academic or employment ‘failure’. The challenges of supporting children and families after ABI are reviewed.
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Dedicated to the memory of Mark Ylvisaker.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.