Why concussion reports are less than the actual amount and what to do if your child has a concussion

Written by Sadie Wirthlin

Recent analyses have shown that the amount of reported concussions in US children may be lower than the amount that’s actually occurring. According to statistics, about half a million cases of child concussions come through the emergency room each year; however, a new study from the journal Pediatrics states that there are an estimated 1.1 to 1.9 million concussions that occur annually. These reports show that not all concussions get reported to the emergency room, and it brings up a concern that a majority of concussions may go unnoticed. Perhaps we aren’t placing enough emphasis on treating these brain-damaging injuries.

National databases show that athletic trainers and doctors diagnose millions of concussions.

In a study done by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, over 8,000 concussed children were evaluated. Of those 8,000, 82% were diagnosed in a doctor’s office, and only 12% were diagnosed in the ER.

The results of this study show that the majority of concussion diagnoses happen outside of the emergency room, which could mean that there are more concussions occurring among children than we thought.

President Obama has requested to establish a 2017 budget that will oversee and track concussions throughout the national household. More concussions tend to occur in high school athletes, but the Center for Injury Research and Prevention in Philadelphia states that concussions in children younger than 12 is also a high concern.

Even though concussion reports in the emergency room have been decreasing, pediatricians are being used more and more for concussion diagnosis and care, a route that is considered the best by Kristy Arbogast, scientific director at the Center for Injury and Research. Pediatricians are better equipped because of their specialization in children and their knowledge of the differences in concussions. Quite often, the child will not need an imaging study done by the ER, which would end up being an expensive visit. A primary care provider can typically perform what is needed: a medical evaluation, education on brain rest and return to activity, and a follow-up.

Although a primary pediatrician is preferred, there are some instances when a child may need to be taken to the ER. These include:

  • the child’s mental status is deteriorating
  • the child can’t carry on a conversation
  • the child can’t stop vomiting
  • the child can’t keep their gaze and their eyes aren’t tracking

Concussions are a serious injury, and it’s important to treat concussed children as soon as possible, whether that’s in the emergency room or by their pediatrician. Be mindful of head injuries, and don’t let them go untreated. Visiting a doctor can help keep your kids healthy and help them get back to playing.

Source: Are kids getting more concussions than we realize? Nadia Kounang. June 21, 2016. Cnn.com/health.


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Sadie Wirthlin

Sadie Wirthlin

Sadie grew up in Rigby, Idaho, dancing and playing sports. She moved to Utah to pursue her dreams and to attend Brigham Young University. There she studied Exercise and Wellness and was apart of the BYU Cougarette Dance Team. During this time, Sadie had the opportunity to travel worldwide for dance, work/volunteer for various health companies, and continue in her love of overall wellness. Her work has always involved writing and she continues to keep up with the latest health topics! Sadie graduated from BYU in August 2015 and recently married the love of her life. She is a fun loving 25 year old with a passion for nutrition, traveling, and exploring.
Sadie Wirthlin

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