Concussions are commonly diagnosed in pediatric patients presenting to the emergency department (ED). The primary objective of this study was to evaluate compliance with ED discharge instructions for concussion management.METHODS
A prospective cohort study was conducted from November 2011 to November 2012 in a pediatric ED at a regional Level 1 trauma center, serving 35,000 pediatric patients per year. Subjects were aged 8 years to 17 years and were discharged from the ED with a diagnosis of concussion. Exclusion criteria included recent (past 3 months) diagnosis of head injury, hospital admission, intracranial injury, skull fracture, suspected nonaccidental trauma, or preexisting neurologic condition. Subjects were administered a baseline survey in the ED and were given standardized discharge instructions for concussion by the treating physician. Telephone follow-up surveys were conducted at 2 weeks and 4 weeks after ED visit.RESULTS
A total of 150 patients were enrolled. The majority (67%) of concussions were sports related. Among sports-related concussions, soccer (30%), football (11%), lacrosse (8%), and basketball (8%) injuries were most common. More than one third (39%) reported return to play (RTP) on the day of the injury. Physician follow-up was equivalent for sport and nonsport concussions (2 weeks, 58%; 4 weeks, 64%). Sports-related concussion patients were more likely to follow up with a trainer (2 weeks, 25% vs. 10%, p = 0.06; 4 weeks, 29% vs. 8%, p < 0.01). Of the patients who did RTP or normal activities at 2 weeks (44%), more than one third (35%) were symptomatic, and most (58%) did not receive medical clearance. Of the patients who had returned to activities at 4 weeks (64%), less than one quarter (23%) were symptomatic, and most (54%) received medical clearance.CONCLUSION
Pediatric patients discharged from the ED are mostly compliant with concussion instructions. However, a significant number of patients RTP on the day of injury, while experiencing symptoms or without medical clearance.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Care management, level IV. Epidemiologic study, level III.