Increase in the Number of Kids With Concussions Visiting the Emergency Room: Study

First Posted: Sep 30, 2013 09:01 AM EDT

A study reports an alarming increase in the number of kids visiting the emergency department with sports related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) like concussions.

The study, conducted by the emergency physicians at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, claims that the emergency room visits for kids with concussions has increased by 92 percent since 2002-2011. Apart from this, the study also claims that the number of children and teens admitted to the hospital for concussions also increased.  The rise in number of kids admitted in hospital was proportionate to the growing number of kids visiting the emergency department, nearly ten percent.

Kids admitted during the later years of the study time period reported less severe injuries and their stay in the hospital was also shorter.

"More people are seeking care for TBI in the emergency department, and proportionately more are being admitted for observation, "Holly Hanson, MD, an emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children's and lead author of the study said in a statement. "Here in Cincinnati, we anticipate more children will be seeing their primary care physician or going to the Cincinnati Children's TBI clinic, due to the passage of recent Ohio legislation mandating medical clearance to return to play."

The researchers provided this conclusion after studying more than 3,800 children and teens who visited the Cincinnati Children's with a sport related TBI since 2002 -2011. Out of the given number of kids studied, only 372 children were admitted.

The researchers, however, noticed a drop in the severity of injury from 7.8 to 4.8. A greater number of the kids who visited the emergency room suffered injuries due to activities like skateboarding, skiing, inline skating and sledding.

The researchers have not given any explanation for why children with less severe injuries were admitted to hospitals. One reason maybe that the children needed more observation.  

Concussions are the common type of traumatic brain injury that are generally referred to as a head injury with temporary loss of brain function. Concussions are known to trigger emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) calls TBI as 'invisible epidemic' as these injuries are not readily noticeable to the public. Each year TBI alone causes 630,000 emergency visits, more than 67,000 hospitalizations and an unbelievable 6,100 deaths in kids. Based on medical evaluations, previous studies claim that there has been a 62 percent rise in TBI since 2001-2009.

A recent study by researchers at Vanderbilt University refuted previous findings that claimed younger athletes take longer to recover from concussion.  According to these researchers, age is not a factor in the duration of concussion symptoms.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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