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Researchers release comprehensive pediatric concussion guidelines

Monday June 30, 2014
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Pediatric emergency medicine researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation released the first comprehensive pediatric concussion guidelines on June 25, according to a news release.

“There have been recommendations and policies on concussion available in the past, but they tend to have focused on sports-related injury and not on children and youth,” Roger Zemek, MD, project leader, scientist at CHEO, and assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Ottawa, said in the release.

“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,” he said in the release. “This is so important because children get more concussions than adults do, with increased risk because their brains are still developing.”

The pediatric guidelines were initiated by ONF, managed by CHEO and developed by an expert panel including more than 30 members from Canada and the U.S., led by Zemek. The project team included representation from the full spectrum of pediatric health disciplines including RNs, physical and occupational therapists, emergency medicine, family practitioners, neurologists and rehabilitation specialists. The team spent more than two years reviewing at least 4,000 academic papers and creating the guidelines.

These new guidelines provide healthcare providers with evidence-based recommendations to standardize the diagnosis and management of concussion in children ages 5-18, from the initial assessment through to the period of recovery. They include tools and clear instructions for all levels of user, such as parents, coaches and healthcare professionals. The guidelines also standardize reintegration into school and social activities, both of which are crucial to children and adolescents during their formative years.

“These are the first comprehensive pediatric guidelines that we’re aware of; they reflect the very best available evidence today,” Zemek said in the release. “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.”

The complete list of panel experts is credited in the guidelines.

The guidelines are free and available at www.onf.org/documents/guidelines-for-pediatric-concussion and www.concussionsontario.org/guidelines-for-pediatric-concussion.


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