A recent study published on Tuesday found that concussions statistics may be putting aside some important factors that could be diminishing the overall data from concussions in children. The age could also be underestimated, researchers noted.
Children who suffered from concussions are more likely to be diagnosed in a primary care office, and the only concussion incidences taken into account are ER visits, according to the study published in in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.
The team concluded that the incidence based only on ER visits underestimates the burden of the injury nationwide and highlights the importance of the primary care setting in concussion care management.
For the study, researchers gathered data from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) electronic health records and recollected information from more than 8,000 children aged up to 17 years old, between 2010 and 2014. The children had visited CHOP’s network at least one time for concussion-related subjects.
They found that about 82 percent of the children with concussions had been diagnosed in their pediatric’s office, compared to only 12 percent of the children who were diagnosed in the ER. Other 5 percent of the children were diagnosed by a specialist, such as a sports medicine doctor or a neurologist, and 1 percent were directly admitted to the hospital.
“We need surveillance that better captures concussions that occur in children and adolescents,” said Dr. Debra Houry, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in a statement commenting the findings. “Better estimates of the number, causes, and outcomes of concussion will allow us to more effectively prevent and treat them, which is a priority area for CDC’s Injury Center.”
Concussions in young children
Besides the findings that highlighted the importance of primary care information, researchers also noted that the children with concussions are younger than previously thought. The statistical data was based mostly in concussions in young athletes, which researchers noted that this were not the only ones relevant.
According to Kristy Arbogast, lead author and Co-Scientific Director of CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention, two things were showed by the researcher. Four in five children were diagnosed at a primary care practice, and one-third were under age 12. Therefore, they represent an important part of the concussion population that is missed by existing surveillance systems that focus on high school athletes, he added.
However, pediatricians could be better at treating the concussions in children rather than an ER due to they are already familiar with the child and the family, Alex Diamond, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and director of the injury prevention program, told ABC News.
According to him, parents should “trust their intuitions” on whether or not to seek treatment for a potential concussion. Diamond noted that parents should seek help when if the child lost consciousness, had a seizure or had a “headache plus”.