Sports-Related Concussions in Children: Differences in Care and Expectations When Seen in an Emergency Department Versus a Sports Medicine Clinic

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Patient and parent expectations can potentially influence management of care. We compared expectations in the diagnosis of concussion between patients who presented to a pediatric emergency department (ED) and those who presented to a sports medicine clinic, and if there was a difference in computed tomography (CT) scans performed.


Head-injured athletes aged 8 to 18 years presenting to a pediatric ED and a sports medicine clinic were enrolled. Both groups completed questionnaires on their understanding of concussion and expectations of care. Charts were then reviewed.


Forty patients were enrolled in the study: 23 from a pediatric ED and 17 from a sports medicine clinic. Forty-one percent of athletes received a head CT in the pediatric ED versus 12% of those in the clinic population with no abnormal findings (P = 0.04). Forty-one percent of athletes and 48% of parents in the pediatric ED setting reported that a CT was “necessary” to diagnose concussion versus 18% in both groups from the clinic (P = 0.12, P = 0.07). Athletes presenting to the clinic were more likely to have been evaluated by an athletic trainer after the injury than those presenting to the pediatric ED (80% vs 23%, P = 0.004).


Patients and parents who presented to a pediatric ED for sports-related head injury had a trend toward higher expectations of a CT scan being necessary to diagnose concussion and did have a higher rate of CT scans performed. Education of athletes and parents engaging in organized sports may be worthwhile to assist in setting expectations in diagnosis of concussion.

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