The growing concern over concussions

LHSC Emergency Department experiencing year over year increase in paediatric concussion cases

June 26, 2013

You may have heard something like:  “His bell was rung”, “she got dinged at soccer” or “it’s just part of the game”…but is it as simple as that?

A recent review of Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre’s emergency department (ED) data found that the number of children and adolescents seeking treating for a concussion has increased 69 percent over the past five years, with 488 youth concussions treated in our Emergency Department (ED) in 2011.  There were a total of 2112 concussions treated in Children’s ED from 2006-11.Two-thirds of the concussions occurred in males (67%) and the median age was 13 years.  Nearly half of paediatric concussions were sports and recreation-related (48%), with hockey as the most common activity.     

A concussion is a mild brain injury caused by any bump, blow or jolt to the head, or any blow to the body that causes the head to be jolted, jarred or moved rapidly. Signs and symptoms can include headache, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or noise, as well as difficulty concentrating and remembering.

Dr. Douglas Fraser, a physician in the LHSC Paediatric Critical Care Unit and lead researcher of the Western Pediatric Concussion Study Group, is currently undertaking several biomarker and epidemiologic research projects on concussion including an adolescent hockey study funded by the Children’s Health Foundation.

“Concussions are of particular concern for children and teenagers because their brains are still developing and may be more susceptible to the effects of a concussion”, said Fraser. “We are undertaking several concussion studies because it is only through a complete understanding of concussion occurrence, its causes and who is at risk, that targeted interventions to prevent concussion can be implemented.” 

What to do if you think you have a concussion:

  • Immediately stop performing the current activity whether it is sports, work or school
  • Tell somebody; be it a family member, co-worker or coach.
  • Do not drive as your vision and thought processing may be impaired
  • Seek medical attention – either by going to the nearest emergency room, or by visiting your family doctor
  • Most importantly REST. Adults and children should not play sports, exercise or participate in recreational activities
  • Activities requiring mental concentration should also be limited, including school/work, reading and all “screen time” including texting, watching television, computer work and electronic games.

“It is important to know when it’s appropriate to introduce activities back into your life”, says Fraser. “There are ‘return to play’ and even ‘return to school’ guidelines in which the concussed individual gradually re-introduces activity into their routine, with each step taking a minimum of one day. If symptoms return, return to rest until they resolve before trying any activity again.”

More information can be found at:

2012 Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport

Brain Injury Association of London and Region 

Parachute Canada 

Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT 3)

Return to play guidelines