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Researchers Release New Pediatric Concussion Guidelines

According to a news release from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) recently launched the first comprehensive pediatric concussion guidelines.

In the release, Roger Zemek, MD, project leader, scientist at CHEO, and assistant professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the University of Ottawa, states that while there have been recommendations and policies regarding concussion available in the past, many tend to focus on sports-related injury rather than children and youth.

“We’ve developed a reliable resource that is valuable for everyone affected by pediatric concussion: from children and their families, to healthcare providers, and to schools and recreational organizations. This is so important because children get more concussions than adults do, with increased risk because their brains are still developing,” Zemek explains.

The release reports that the pediatric guidelines were initiated by ONF, managed by CHEO, and developed by an expert panel comprised of more than 30 members across Canada and the United States led by Zemek. The project also included representation from the full spectrum of pediatric health disciplines (rehabilitation professionals, emergency medicine, family practitioners, neurologists, etc) the release says.

“It was fascinating to see how recommendations have changed over time. Years ago, children were told to ‘rest’ after concussion, which means something entirely different today with the onset of technology—now, rest also includes a break from screen time,” Zemek points out.

 The new guidelines are intended to offer healthcare providers evidence-based recommendations to standardize the diagnosis and management of concussion in children aged 3 to 18 years old, from initial assessment through to the period of recovery. The guidelines also seek to standardize reintegration into school and social activities.

The guidelines encompass a variety of tools and instructions intended for all levels of users. The release offers examples of this, including the provision of a pocket tool to be used by a coach or parent at the sideline to pinpoint concussion and offer advice regarding whether the children should be removed from play or seek emergent medical attention, as well as recommendations for ongoing symptom management and decision tools to help navigate “return-to-play” and “return-to-learn,” for physicians and nurse practitioners.

See the guidelines in full here

Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, emphasizes that the guidelines, “are re-exceedingly clear and comprehensive. I think this will be an indispensable resource for caregivers in a wide range of care settings, and also be accessible for the general public.”

[Source(s): CHEO Research Institute, ONF, Eurekalert]