In this section
Cognitive fatigue is a unique kind of fatigue, or tiredness. It is a common problem that
can happen after a mild, moderate or severe brain
When a child has cognitive
fatigue, it means their brain has to work harder to concentrate on
tasks it used to be able to do much more easily before the brain
injury. A child may have trouble concentrating, and may not be able
to think for as long as they used to.
Cognitive fatigue is not
related to a child's intellectual capacity or physical
energy levels. Cognitive fatigue can lead to behavioural
problems, educational difficulties and mood swings.
Your GP should
see your child and exclude any other medical cause for the fatigue
(for example chronic infections, thyroid problems, anaemia or a heart condition).
Unfortunately, there is no
quick fix. Understanding the problem is the first step. Knowing
that your child is not lazy, naughty or lacking motivation can
reduce the stress for them and you when dealing with their fatigue. Fatigue will
lessen with time as your child's brain injury stabilises, although sometimes
a permanent change to their lifestyle is needed. A well balanced
diet, good sleeping routines and regular exercise are important.
Recognition of fatigue and taking steps to minimise its
effect are also important.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Paediatric Rehabilitation Service based on information from the Brain Injury Service at Westmead Children’s Hospital. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed September 2020.
Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.