BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to describe the epidemiology of concussions presenting to the emergency department (ED).
METHODS: A retrospective cohort of concussions for pediatric (age G 18 years) patients treated in the ED of a regional pediatric Level 1 trauma center from 2006 to 2011 was examined. Descriptive and geographic analyses were completed, with comparisons by age groups and residence (urban/rural).
RESULTS: There were a total of 2,112 treated pediatric concussions. Two thirds of the concussions occurred in males (67%), with a median age of 13 years (interquartile range [IQR], 6). Nearly half of the pediatric concussions were sports related (48%); 36% of these concussions were from hockey. Significant differences were found in the distribution of the mechanism of injury across age groups (p G 0.001). Falls were most prevalent among young children, and sports concussions, for children 10 years and older. Two fifths of concussions occurred during winter months. Discharge disposition significantly differed by age ( p G 0.001), with home discharge increasing with age up to 14 years. There were a total of 387 rural (19%) and 1,687 urban (81%) concussed patients, for a mean ED concussion visit rate of 2.2 per 1,000 and 3.5 per 1,000, respectively. Rural patients were older (14 [IQR, 6] vs. 13 [IQR, 6], p = 0.019] and sustained 2.5 times more concussions from a motor vehicle crash compared with urban youth patients ( p G 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Males in early adolescence are at highest risk for concussion, particularly from sport-related activities. Urban and rural children have differences in their etiology and severity of concussions. Concussions are predictable, and their prevention should be targeted based on epidemiologic and environmental data.
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