A  A  A   Print
Many More Kids Visiting ER for Sports Concussions, Study Finds

Many More Kids Visiting ER for Sports Concussions, Study Finds

MONDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Many more children are showing up at emergency departments with traumatic brain injuries -- such as concussions -- from sports activities, a new study finds.

Doctors at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that the number of emergency department visits for these injuries increased 92 percent between 2002 and 2011.

Meanwhile, although the number of children admitted to the hospital rose in proportion to emergency department visits, the hospitalization rate held at a steady 10 percent.

One bright spot in the study was that the severity of injuries decreased. And the rise in emergency department visits is probably due in part to better awareness, experts said.

"We are doing a better job at educating ourselves and educating the public about concussion," said Dr. Holly Hanson, lead study author and an emergency medicine fellow. "People and doctors are recognizing sports-related concussions more. People are recognizing the signs and symptoms. People are more aware of the complications. So people are coming in more."

Children today are bigger and faster, Hanson said, and the increased weight and velocity may also be causing more of these injuries. "That's my best guess," she said.

The activities that had the highest admission rates per patients seen in the ER for traumatic brain injury were skiing, sledding, inline skating and skateboarding, the investigators found. "These activities don't have a lot of regulation or trainers around. So being smart about helmets is important," Hanson said.

For the study, Hanson's team collected data on nearly 3,900 children seen in the emergency department for a sports-related traumatic brain injury. Of these, 372 were admitted to the hospital.

Although more children were seen over time, the severity of their injuries was reduced, which was most likely due to more parents being cautious and concerned, and bringing their children to the hospital to be examined, Hanson said.

Parents shouldn't take head injuries lightly, she added. "It could cause both short-term and long-term consequences if ignored," Hanson said. "Seeking care is most important."

The report was published online Sept. 30 and in the October print issue of Pediatrics.

Another expert thinks more awareness of concussions is increasing the numbers of children being seen in hospitals for them.

Dr. Ann Hyslop, a pediatric neurologist at Miami Children's Hospital, said that "more children are going to the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries across the country and that speaks to increased traumatic brain injury awareness and the need for concussion identification early."

Hyslop said she too has seen an increase in the number of children being seen in emergency rooms and in clinics, including those referred by pediatricians for concussion.

Many children will get better within a short time, but for others more care is needed, she said.

"About 95 percent of children are going to get better within a couple of weeks," Hyslop said. "But during that time they can have problems with concentration, sleep, headaches, behavioral and mood issues."

For children whose condition doesn't improve, other treatments -- such as physical therapy, speech therapy, help in concentrating and long-term sleep and headache management -- may be needed, Hyslop noted. "That's about 5 to 10 percent of children," she said.

Hyslop also pointed out that more children are wearing helmets and more parents are following car seat recommendations. "But we have a lot of room to improve," she added.

Traumatic brain injuries are responsible for some 630,000 emergency room visits, more than 67,000 hospitalizations, and 6,100 deaths in children and teens each year, according to previous research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across the United States, the number of children seen for sports-related traumatic brain injuries increased 62 percent between 2001 and 2009, other studies have found.

More information

For more about concussions, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Holly Hanson, M.D., emergency medicine fellow, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Ann Hyslop, M.D., pediatric neurologist, Miami Children's Hospital; October 2013, Pediatrics

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.