Most children in the United States who incurred a concussion were not seen in a health care setting, according to findings published in Pediatrics.
“This study provides the most accurate and precise estimate to date of the number of concussions among U.S. children annually,” R. Dawn Comstock, PhD, of the department of epidemiology at the University of Colorado, and colleagues wrote. “[Sports and recreation-related concussions (SRRCs)] are a common injury to children.”
R. Dawn Comstock
The most commonly cited estimate, based on the 1991 National Health Interview Survey, is that 1.6 million to 3.8 million SRRC traumatic brain injuries occur annually in the United States, the researchers wrote. Comstock and colleagues sought to update this estimate by performing more current research based on the latest available data collected in 2013.
The researchers used three national databases: MarketScan, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the National High School Sports Related Injury Surveillance System. They estimated the number of SRRCs seen in outpatient, inpatient and ED settings as well as SRRCs reported to high school athletic trainers. Children were defined as being aged 18 years or younger.
Comstock and colleagues estimated that between 1.1 million and 1.9 million SRRCs occur annually among U.S. children. This number is substantially lower than the previous estimate because it focused solely on children, the researchers said.
Among this updated estimate, the researchers said most children with SRRCs, between 511,590 and 1,240,972, were not seen in health care settings. Of the children who visited these settings, most were outpatients (n = 377,978 visits). The investigators also reported that between 115,479 and 166,929 children were seen in the ED, and 2,886 to 4,936 children were hospitalized.
“Providers in all health care settings need to be trained in concussion care,” the researchers wrote. “The large number of unreported concussions identified in our study … indicates a need for a cultural shift in the recognition of SRRCs.” – by Will Offit
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.