New kids’ concussion guidelines
TORONTO—A Canadian-led team of researchers has released a comprehensive set of guidelines and online tools aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment of concussions in children and adolescents.
“There have been recommendations and policies on concussion available in the past, but they tend to have focused on sports-related injury and not on children and youth,” said Dr. Roger Zemek, an emergency medicine specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, who led the team of more than 30 Canadian and U.S. experts that created the guidelines.
“This is so important because children get more concussions than adults do, with increased risk because their brains are still developing.”
The pediatric guidelines, initiated by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, are intended to help doctors, parents, schools, and community sports organizations to recognize the symptoms of concussion in children aged five-18, with the goal of better managing their recovery.
Zemek said a survey of more than 800 Ontario health professionals found that while doctors are doing a “fairly good job” of recognizing when a child has experienced a concussion, many are not applying the most up-to-date evidence regarding treatment—namely that patients don’t need only physical rest to recover but also cognitive rest.
Concussion is a brain injury usually caused by a blow to the head, which can cause dizziness, confusion, memory loss, headache, nausea, or vomiting.
Depending on the severity of the concussion, symptoms can persist for some time.
Concentration and the ability to remember may be impaired; and the person can be irritable, depressed, and have marked personality changes.
Sensitivity to noise and light, along with disturbed sleep, also are common.
“I think people need to know that a child who’s suffering may not look injured to their friends and family,” Zemek said Tuesday from Ottawa.
“There’s no bandage, there’s no cast, there are no crutches.
“However, kids can take weeks to months to recover, and it’s so important to allow that brain to heal,” he stressed.