CDC Issues New Guidelines For Diagnosing And Treating Head Injury In Children

The CDC published new guidelines on how to treat concussions in children.
Al Bello / Getty Images

The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention have released new recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of teens and children with concussions.

The federal agency said that the first evidence-based guidelines for treating pediatric concussions will provide doctors the tools needed to ensure the best outcome for their young patients.

Concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), can lead to long-term memory loss, Parkinson’s disease, thinking problems and other serious health issues, the Inquisitr previously reported.

The injury may occur after an impact or injury to the head. More than half of mTBI cases occur as a result of falls. Repeated blows to the head, such as those sustained while playing sports, can also lead to brain injury.

Debra Houry, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, estimates that there are more than 800,000 children who seek treatment for traumatic brain injury each year. The exact number of cases, however, is unknown due to a lack of nationwide efforts to track them. Many patients go untreated.

The new CDC Pediatric mTBI Guideline, published on Tuesday, aims to help healthcare providers take actions that can improve the health and safety of young patients with concussions. The guideline consists of 19 clinical recommendations that can help doctors diagnose, manage and treat concussions in children.

“This guideline identifies the best practices for mTBI based on the current evidence; updates should be made as the body of evidence grows,” CDC brain injury specialist and guideline co-author Matthew Breiding and his colleagues wrote in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics. “Evaluation of the guideline and implementation materials is crucial in understanding the influence of the recommendations.”

Key recommendations include advice against routine X-rays and blood tests for diagnosis. Scientific evidence suggests that these tests are not effective at detecting mTBI. The new CDC guideline also warned that while rest, the main treatment for the injury, is recommended for the first three days, inactivity beyond this period may worsen the symptoms.

Sports and brain concussion in children
  Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Breiding urged parents to advise their kids to report any symptoms of concussion right way, regardless of where or how the injury occurred.

“Some children and teens think concussions aren’t serious or worry that if they report a concussion they will lose their position on the team or look weak,” Breiding told Today. “Remind them that it’s better to miss one game than the whole season.”

Most of the children’s symptoms tend to clear up within three months after injury, but the period of recovery varies. Kids who had previous concussions as well as those with learning difficulties and mental illness tend to have slower recovery times.