Children hospitalized with concussions should wait until they are seen by a clinician in a follow-up exam before returning to regular sports or playtime activities, according to researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Rather than only consulting a doctor when there are obvious trouble signs after the initial treatment, the Children's Hospital researchers recommend that a qualified healthcare provider perform a formal assessment after hospital discharge but before child resumes exertional activities. The study team used a computer-based testing program created to assess athletes with concussions and determine when it was safe to return to play. The authors found that nearly all the children admitted to the hospital with a concussion had some abnormal brain function during initial testing.
"Head injuries that occur during regular activities, such as riding a bike or in a car crash, are more common than sports injuries and yet the same issues arise -- the children want to go back to sports, or to school or outside to play," said Michael L. Nance, M.D., lead author of the study and director of the Trauma Program at Children's Hospital. "The old recommendation would be to go see your pediatrician if you are having trouble, but sometimes families don't recognize there is trouble until six months later. We think they should be seen again by a qualified healthcare provider before returning to play."
The researchers' article appears in the May issue of the journal Annals of Surgery.
Mild traumatic brain injury, commonly referred to as a concussion, is a head injury that typically does not cause any visible physical damage, but frequently has symptoms such as headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness, or fatigue. Mild traumatic brain injury is a common injury in children yet only about 12 percent of those resulting in hospitalization occur during athletic activities.
Prior research has demonstrated
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Children's Hospital of Philadelphia