Concussions are a very serious and often scary type of injury for children. Because their young brains are still developing, brain injuries are that much more serious. Concussions and traumatic brain injuries, and the way they effect children are things that are constantly being updated as more research is done. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has just recently released some new guidelines on diagnosing and treating kids with concussions. The CDC Pediatric mTBI (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) Guideline was created for healthcare professionals to be better equipped handling these cases, but it also provides useful information for those of us not in the healthcare field.
In the report, the CDC acknowledges that concussions are a growing public health concern because of an uptick in emergency room visits in the last decade. This rise in concussions can most directly be attributed to youth sports. According to a report on the topic, between 2001 and 2009 approximately 173, 285 children below the age of 19 were treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal traumatic brain injuries related to youth sports.
As youth sports and similar activities continue to be popular, this is something that needs to be carefully monitored. Even with the most strict safety precautions, these activities can be damaging to developing brains.
The data on sports related concussions in children is actually what led the CDC to creating this guideline for treatment. To date, there has been no broad, evidence based clinical guidelines for assessment and treatment of concussions in children developed in the United States.
Considering that from 2005 to 2009 children made 2 million outpatient (like a doctor's office) and 3 million emergency room visits as a result of concussions, it's disturbing that there hasn't been a comprehensive guideline created. Especially because there can be kids who suffer from concussion related symptoms for more than two weeks, and sometimes more than 3 months. These injuries affect a child's ability to function cognitively, physically, and psychologically.
If you're unaware of the signs of a concussion, here are a few, per the Mayo Clinic.
* Headache or feeling of pressure in the head* Temporary loss of consciousness* Confusion or feeling in a fog* Dizziness or "seeing stars"* Nausea/Vomiting* Fatigue
The CDC Guidelines have 19 detailed recommendations for diagnosis and treatment of concussions in children. While they're all important, these are the key recommendations that we should know about:
* No routine imaging of pediatric patients to diagnose a concussion.* Use of age appropriate symptoms scale for diagnosis.* Assessing evidence-based risk factors for recovery.* Give patients and their parents/ caregivers instructions customized to their symptoms.* Direct patients to return gradually to non-sport activities after no more than two to three days of rest.
If you or your child believe they have a concussion, you shouldn't hesitate to get them checked out.