Federal health authorities have issued new clinical recommendations for the treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) — commonly called concussions — in children.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for the treatment of pediatric concussions consists of 19 sets of clinical recommendations covering the diagnosis, prognosis and management, and treatment of these mild traumatic brain injuries, which government sources refer to as “mTBI.”
“More than 800,000 children seek care for TBI in U.S. emergency departments each year, and until today, there was no evidence-based guideline in the United States on pediatric mTBI—inclusive of all causes,” said Dr. Deb Houry, head of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Health care providers will now be equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure the best outcomes for their young patients who sustain an mTBI.”
The CDC Guideline on the Diagnosis and Management of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Among Children was published Sept. 4 in the JAMA Pediatrics journal. According to the CDC, the report included specific actions health care providers can take to help pediatric concussion patients as well as their parents or other caregivers.
The recommendations are applicable for concussions in all practice settings, the CDC said.
Among the specific actions the CDC prescribes are five “practice-changing recommendations:”
- Do not routinely image pediatric patients to diagnose concussion.
- Use validated, age-appropriate symptom scales to diagnose concussion.
- Assess for risk factors for prolonged recovery, including history of concussion or other brain injury, severe symptom presentation immediately after the injury, and personal characteristics and family history (such as learning difficulties and family and social stressors).
- Provide patients and their parents/caregivers with instructions on returning to activity customized to their symptoms.
- Counsel patients and their parents/caregivers to return gradually to non-sports activities after no more than 2-3 days of rest.
“We have heard from health care providers that they want and need consistent, current, and evidence-based guidance for diagnosing and managing mTBI. And this guideline can help,” said Houry. “However, we also designed the guideline so it can help inform efforts aimed at supporting families, sports coaches, and schools — who are all integral to keeping children safe and healthy.”
For more information on concussions in children, visit the CDC’s “Heads Up” campaign page.