Study: Millions of concussions in kids go untreated

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Local health experts have a warning for parents about kids and concussions, after a new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows only about a quarter of kids who get concussions receive treatment.

This study shows nearly 2 million kids suffer from concussions each year. Of those, about half a million go untreated.

So WNCT went to local doctors to find out when to seek treatment.

If there’s any loss of consciousness, the child should be taken to the emergency room. Kids with any lingering symptoms, like dizziness or vomiting, should at least be evaluated by their pediatrician.

ECU’s Dr. Herb Garrison said many of the concussions they see locally are from contact sports, “You want to make sure they’re on a team where there’s a trained athletic trainer who knows how to evaluate the child that may have received a concussion.”

There’s a lot being done locally to keep kids from getting concussions. As part of the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program, health experts go to schools and teach kids how to protect themselves from concussions and how to recognize them. North Carolina researchers are also currently evaluating helmet design and how to better protect young athletes.

The number of concussions versus those treated reveals a big gap in how the U.S. estimates how many kids get concussions. To improve accuracy, President Obama is calling for a National Concussion Surveillance System to track numbers through a phone survey system.

Currently, concussion cases are based on emergency room visits and information from schools. Yet this new study shows a majority of them are diagnosed by a primary care physician.

Dr. Garrison said proper treatment is crucial because repeated concussions could cause major issues, “We do know that if it’s enough of them, we don’t know how much, there may be some chronic problem down the road.”

During the summer, it’s especially important to watch out for places where kids could potentially injure their heads. Last month, WNCT reported on the rising number of playground concussions. Diving and bike-riding can also be dangerous.

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