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Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is the most common form of brain injury.  Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an evidence-based guideline for pediatric treatment of mild TBI.

According to the CDC, more than 800,000 children are evaluated for TBI in emergency departments across the US each year.  Concussion is the most common form of TBI.  While a concussion may be considered mild, any blow to the head or injury to the brain could have long- term consequences.

TBI is on the increase across all age ranges.  Between 2007 and 2013, emergency department visits for TBI rose 53 percent while hospitalizations increased by five percent.  While younger patients may heal more quickly than adults who suffer TBI, brain injury can have a devastating impact on the growing brain.  Lingering symptoms of TBI could lead children to have difficulty learning, remembering, or processing information.  Inadequate treatment of TBI by an inexperienced or uninformed healthcare provider can put a child on a lifetime path toward frustration and failure.

The CDC Takes Action to Help Children who Suffer TBI

The CDC team evaluated 25 years of research and sought feedback from experts and collaborating partners to develop its clinical guidelines for physicians treating pediatric patients.  The result is the CDC Guideline on the Diagnosis and Management of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Among ChildrenThe Guideline offers 19 groups of recommendations to advise pediatric or emergency department physicians in the areas of:

  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Management
  • Prognosis

The CDC is emphasizing the following five points when it comes to treatment of pediatric patients with mTBI:

  1. It is not necessary to routinely use imaging tests to diagnose mild traumatic brain injury.
  2. Instead, use age-appropriate, clinically validated symptom scales to diagnose mTBI.
  3. Make an assessment based on all of the factors that might affect recovery. Other factors could be a history of brain injury, symptoms at outset and lingering symptoms, family history, and unique personal characteristics such as difficulty learning and related social and academic stressors.
  4. Guide patients and provide parents and caregivers about returning to activity in relationship to the symptoms they experience.
  5. Speak with patients and their caregivers about a gradual return to non-sports-related activities after two or three days of rest.

The new guidance and tools from the CDC make use of the latest understanding of the brain and the complex ways in which the young brain responds to injury.  If your child suffers a TBI be sure he or she is treated appropriately by healthcare providers.  Be sure to ask questions—it is critical you have the information and management practices you need to help your child recover fully after a head injury of any kind.

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