Are Pediatric Concussions Going Undiagnosed?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly half a million children go to the emergency room with a concussion each year—but is that number accurate? Since most traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions, are diagnosed in a primary care physician’s office, rather than the ER, the official number of children impacted by these injuries may be vastly different from what the CDC numbers suggest.

A study published in JAMA suggests that the number of kids who sustain TBIs each year may be vastly underreported. Researchers blame the disparity on the failure to include primary care diagnoses in the official statistics. In fact, four of five kids visit their pediatrician first before going to an ER, if they go to an emergency room at all. Some kids may go completely undiagnosed, and others may only visit their athletic trainer if they fear a head injury.

More variables skew the numbers, as well. For example, some physicians may report an injury as a “closed head injury,” rather than a TBI.

ABC News reported that Dr. Debra Houry, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, stated the agency needs better statistics on the actual number of TBIs occurring in children. “Better estimates of the number, causes, and outcomes of concussion will allow us to more effectively prevent and treat them, which is a priority area for CDC’s Injury Center.” Dr. Houry hopes that more will be done in the future to track pediatric concussions treated outside the ER.

How do concussions in children happen?

Kids are scarily susceptible to traumatic brain injuries, including concussions. In 2013, falls were the leading cause of TBIs in children. More than half of TBI-related ER visits, hospitalizations, and deaths among children 0 to 14 years were caused by falls, according to data from the CDC. The next most common cause was being struck by or against an object (22%). For all age groups, the third overall leading cause was motor vehicle accidents, accounting for 14% of all TBI victims.

Children who incur concussions and other TBIs need immediate medical treatment. If that injury was caused by the negligence of another, such as in a car crash or slip and fall accident, contact a Nashville TBI lawyer immediately. You may have cause for legal resource.

For years, clients in Nashville, Gallatin, Knoxville, and the surrounding areas have trusted The Rocky McElhaney Law Firm to be their strong legal advocates. We believe in giving a voice to the voiceless, and standing up for your rights no matter what. To schedule a free initial consultation, give us a call at 615-425-2500 or fill out a contact form today.