New research from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights a substantial gap in how the United States currently estimates the nation’s burden of pediatric concussions. Among 0- to 17-year-olds who have a CHOP primary care physician and were diagnosed with a concussion within CHOP’s regional pediatric network, 82 percent had their first concussion visit at a primary care site, 12 percent at the emergency department, 5 percent within specialty care (sports medicine, neurology, trauma), and 1 percent were directly admitted to the hospital. Many current counts of concussion injury among children are based solely on emergency department (E.D.) visits or on organized high school and college athletics data. Thus, the authors say, we may be vastly underestimating child and youth concussions in the US.
“We learned two really important things about pediatric concussion healthcare practices,” says Kristy Arbogast, PhD, lead author and Co-Scientific Director of CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention. “First, four in five of this diverse group of children were diagnosed at a primary care practice—not the emergency department. Second, one-third were under age 12, and therefore represent an important part of the concussion population that is missed by existing surveillance systems that focus on high school athletes.”