Postconcussion Syndrome in Children Often Lasts Months

11 percent with mild traumatic brain injury still symptomatic at three months
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial number of children who experience mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) are still symptomatic for postconcussion syndrome (PCS) three months after injury, apparently independent of trauma, maternal psychological adjustment, or family dysfunction, according to research published online July 26 in Pediatrics.

Karen Maria Barlow, of the University of Calgary in Canada, and colleagues examined data on 670 children presenting to an emergency department with mTBI, and 197 children presenting with extracranial injury (ECI), to compare the epidemiology and natural history of PCS symptoms in the two groups.

The researchers found a significant difference between the two groups in the duration of time until their symptoms resolved; 11 percent of the children in the mTBI group were still symptomatic (13.7 percent of those over age 6) compared with 0.5 percent of those in the ECI group three months after injury. A year out, 2.3 percent of the mTBI children had persistent symptoms versus 0.01 percent in the ECI group. The researchers note that these findings could not be explained by trauma, family functioning, or maternal psychological adjustment.

"Provision of proper education and reassurance soon after injury can reduce postconcussive symptoms in adults, but as yet there is strikingly little evidence to guide the management and treatment of PCS in children. The impact of PCS on school performance and social functioning at this critical time in development is likely to be significant and is worthy of future research," the authors write.

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