What You Need to Know About the New Guidelines for Treating Concussions in Kids

Sep 6, 2018 at 5:11 p.m. ET
kid wearing football helmet
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Concussions are relatively common, especially in children and young adults. In fact, The Washington Post reports that children under 17 years of age collectively endure as many as 2 million concussions every year — and that is in the United States alone. Since concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries, and ones that can result in more severe TBIs, it is important to do what we can to properly treat and prevent them from happening. As such, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines for treating concussions in children.

More: Signs Your Child May Have a Concussion

In fact, these are the first to specifically address youth TBIs.

The guidelines, published in JAMA Pediatrics, include 19 sets of recommendations and "five key practice-changing" recommendations:

  • Children should not be routinely imaged to diagnose a mild TBI.
  • The age-appropriate symptoms scale should be used to diagnose a concussion.
  • Risk factors for prolonged recovery should be assessed, including family history and/or history of concussions or other brain injury.
  • Patients and their parents/caregivers should be given a customized recovery plan.
  • Patients should gradually return to non-sports activities after two to three days of rest.

The issue of TBIs has become one of particular importance in recent years thanks to ongoing research that shows that repeated blows to the head can lead to long-term memory loss, dementia and other serious health issues. In fact, the CDC said its guidelines were based on the "most comprehensive review of the science" over the past 25 years related to concussions.

Dr. Debra Houry, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in a press release, "[U]ntil today, there was no evidence-based guideline in the United States on pediatric [mild] TBI — inclusive of all causes. [However,] healthcare providers will now be equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure the best outcomes for their young patients who sustain a [mild] TBI." 

More: How to Keep Your Family Healthy This School Year — According to Pediatricians 

For additional information on the CDC's new guidelines and how parents and/or caregivers can help their kids, check out the CDC Heads Up initiative.

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