A nurse-led paediatric head injury follow-up service

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Abstract

A nurse-led paediatric head injury follow-up service

Aim:

The aim of this study was to describe a nurse-led follow-up service, duration of children's late head injury symptoms and parent/child informational needs.

Background:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in children. In Sweden; 7200 children and adolescents are hospitalized every year because of head trauma, and 90% of all head traumas are considered a mild head injury. Although the head injury may be mild, 5–15% of children report sequelae (headache, dizziness, fatigue or memory problems), and the need for a follow-up service has been proposed several times.

Methods/Design:

An empirical descriptive study of a nurse-led follow-up service to improve the quality of care among children with mild-to-moderate head injuries. The data were collected in the period 2003–2005 at a Swedish University Hospital.

Findings:

In total, 149 children (mean age: 9.3 years) received the follow-up service. In 92% of cases, one follow-up visit was performed. Eight per cent needed several visits to ensure symptom resolution. Ninety-one per cent of all children described late symptoms [headache (75%) and tiredness (74%)] at the follow-up visits. The mean symptom duration was 5 weeks. However, 18% of the children reported long-lasting symptoms for 8 weeks, and 16 children (10%) reported long-lasting symptoms beyond 3 months postinjury.

Conclusion:

An early follow-up service with the aim of meeting the family's needs and reducing any negative impact after a childhood head injury could minimize long-lasting complications for both parents and children.

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