June 12, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
Concussions can occur at any age. They can be caused by slip and fall accidents, car accidents, sporting activities, or any other sudden blow to the head or even the body. Young children have different needs and recoveries from adults with concussion.
Few studies have been done on children of elementary school age with concussion. Many of these children have had playground accidents or falls precipitating their injuries. A recent study carried out in Philadelphia Children’s Hospital (CHOP) did a comprehensive analysis of elementary school-age children with the aim of developing a more consistent assessment and treatment protocol for children that age.
According to Dr. Masters, one of the key researches at CHOP:
"Since one-third of pediatric and adolescent concussion injuries occur in elementary school-age children, we set out to provide a comprehensive description of children ages 5-11 years who were diagnosed with concussion to pinpoint opportunities to improve the quality of diagnosis and care for this age group," said lead author Christina L. Master, MD, a sports medicine pediatrician at CHOP, a senior fellow at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP), and Co-Director of the CHOP's Minds Matter Program.
The study examined 1500 young pediatric patients aged 5-11 and found that vision and balance issue were as common in these children as in adolescents but unlike in adolescents there were no consistent visio-vestibular tests being performed on the children at the time of diagnosis. In this age group 21% of the patients had seen a school nurse initially and researchers noted the important role school nurses play in public health.
The researchers also noted that 95% of the children examined received no letters from treating physicians recommending school accommodations for their children while in recovery. In total 56% of the children received clearance letters for return to play or recreational activities which include school gym class.
Dr. Master and her colleagues recommend that visio-vestibular assessments be done at all initial health care visits and that the next steps of assessment and treatment flow from there. Concussion management, letters of instruction for schools, letters outlining accommodations that are appropriate for children, return to sport or play plans and referral for follow ups or specialists should all be discussed and provided at the initial visit.
In a separate paper Dr. Master contributed to ( Factors Affecting Recovery Trajectories in Pediatric Female Concussion Natasha Desai , Douglas J Wiebe , Daniel J Corwin , Julia E Lockyer , Matthew F Grady, Christina L Master ) it was concluded that:
Up to one-third of children with concussion have persistent postconcussion symptoms lasting beyond 4 weeks. Females have been shown to have prolonged concussion recovery compared with males. This study examined characteristics in pediatric athletes with concussion to investigate the underlying factors that may contribute to this difference and their relation to recovery trajectories in females compared with males
Any time a child falls hitting their head, or hits their head and begins to show any sign of unusual behavior they should be examined for concussion by a medical professional immediately. If they lose consciousness emergency healthcare should be sought.