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A Comparison of Concussive Symptoms Reported by Parents for Preschool Versus School-Aged Children

McKinlay, Audrey PhD, Dip Clin Psyc; Ligteringen, Veronica BSLT; Than, Martin FACEM, FCEM

Section Editor(s): Caplan, Bruce PhD, ABPP; Bogner, Jennifer PhD, ABPP

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: May/June 2014 - Volume 29 - Issue 3 - p 233–238
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3182a2dd7f
Original Articles

Objective: To compare parental report of symptoms of concussion for children with superficial head injury versus children with a diagnosis of a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

Setting: Urban hospital emergency department.

Participants: Parents of 159 children aged 2 to 12 years who presented with an injury to the head.

Procedure: Parents were contacted within 1 week of injury and assigned into 3 groups according to their child's age and medical diagnosis (group 1, parents of 2- to 5-year-olds with mTBI (n = 39); group 2, parents of 6- to 12-year-olds with mTBI (n = 41); and group 3, parents of 2- to 12-year-olds with superficial injury to the head (n = 35).

Results: Symptoms of concussion were reported in all groups; however, significantly fewer symptoms were reported for children with superficial injuries to the head than for children with mTBI (M = 2.51 vs M = 6.91; P < .001). For mTBI, parents of younger children reported significantly fewer symptoms than parents of older children (M = 5.23 vs M = 8.51; P < .001).

Conclusions: A careful approach needs to be taken when evaluating the severity of mTBI for preschool children. Failure to do so may result in misidentification and subsequent lack of management.

School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Dr McKinlay); University of Canterbury (Dr McKinlay), and Canterbury District Health Board (Ms Ligteringen); and Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department (Dr Than), Christchurch, New Zealand.

Corresponding Author: Audrey McKinlay, PhD, Dip Clin Psyc, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Clayton Campus, Melbourne, Victoria 3800, Australia (audrey.mckinlay@monash.edu).

Dr McKinlay was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Health Research Council/Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins