Annual and Seasonal Trends in Ambulatory Visits for Pediatric Concussion in Ontario between 2003 and 2013

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate annual and seasonal trends in physician office and emergency department (ED) visit rates for pediatric concussion in Ontario between 2003 and 2013.

Study design

A retrospective, population-based study was conducted using linked health administrative data from all concussion-related visits to ED and physician office by children aged 5 through 18 years. Time series analysis was used to assess whether periodic components exist in the monthly number of concussion-related visits.

Results

Over the 11-year study period, there were 176 685 pediatric visits for concussion in EDs and physician offices in Ontario. Standardized concussion-related visits showed a 4.4-fold (95% CI 4.37-4.45) increase per 100 000 from 2003 to 2013, with nearly 35 000 total visits in 2013. Concussion-related visits demonstrated a steep increase from 2010 onward. The greatest increases in standardized visits were in females (6.3-fold, 95% CI 6.23-6.46 vs 3.6-fold, 95% CI 3.56-3.64 in males) and 13-18.99 year olds (5.0-fold, 95% CI 4.93-5.08 vs 4.1-fold, 95% CI 3.99-4.27 in 9-12 years and 2.3-fold, 95% CI 2.23-2.42 in 5-8 years). A strong seasonal variability (R2autoreg = 0.87, P < .01) in the number of concussion-related visits was present, with most occurring in fall and winter.

Conclusions

Pediatric concussion-related ED and physician office visit rates have greatly increased in the last decade, particularly since 2010. Prevention strategies may be targeted at those most at risk and at seasonal-related activities carrying the greatest risk of concussion.

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