Sports-related traumatic brain injuries soaring

October 8, 2013

The number of emergency department (ED) visits for sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) rose astronomically in the past decade, but the percentage of children admitted to the hospital from the ED with sports-related TBI did not, and the severity of the injuries seems to be decreasing.

 

The number of emergency department (ED) visits for sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) rose astronomically in the past decade, but the percentage of children admitted to the hospital from the ED with sports-related TBI did not, and the severity of the injuries seems to be decreasing.

Emergency physicians from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center calculated that visits to their ED for sports-related TBIs increased 92% over the study period from 2002 to 2011. The number of children and teenagers admitted to the hospital from the ED with TBIs also increased, but only by about 10%, which was proportionate to the increase in the number of ED visits.

The researchers also found decreases in hospital length of stay and in the mean injury severity score for those admitted, which decreased from 7.8 to 4.8 during the decade in review.

To gather this information, the physicians conducted a retrospective study of children aged 0 to 19 years who came to the hospital’s level 1 trauma center between 2002 and 2011 with a primary or secondary diagnosis of TBI.

They found that participation in sports was responsible for 3,878 TBIs (about 15% of the total) during the study period. Of those, just over 90% were discharged from the ED, while the remainder were admitted to the hospital. Three-quarters of the patients were male, three-quarters were Caucasian, and the mean age of the patients was 13 ±3.5 years.

According to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, skiing, sledding, inline skating, and skateboarding are the activities responsible for the most TBI hospital admissions from the ED.

A number of states have enacted or are considering enacting “return to play” laws to address how and when athletes should return to sports after a TBI. 

 

 

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