The Diagnosis of Concussion in Pediatric Emergency Departments: A Prospective Multicenter Study Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: The accurate identification of children with a concussion by emergency physicians is important to initiate appropriate anticipatory guidance and management. OBJECTIVES: We compared the frequency of persistent concussion symptoms in children who were provided the diagnosis of concussion by an emergency physician versus those who met Berlin/Zurich international criteria for this diagnosis. We also determined the clinical variables independently associated with a physician-diagnosed concussion. METHODS: This was a planned secondary analysis of a prospective, multicenter cohort study. Participants were 5-17 years of age and met the Zurich/Berlin International Consensus Statement criteria for concussion. RESULTS: There were 2946 enrolled children. In those with physician-diagnosed concussion vs. no concussion, the frequency of persistent symptoms was 62.5% vs. 38.8% (p < 0.0001) at 1 week, 46.3% vs. 25.8% (p < 0.0001) at 2 weeks, and 33.0% vs. 23.0% (p < 0.0001) at 4 weeks. Of those meeting international criteria, 2340 (79.4%) were diagnosed with a concussion by an emergency physician and 12 variables were associated with this diagnosis. Five had an odds ratio (OR) > 1.5: older age (13-17 vs. 5-7 years, OR 2.9), longer time to presentation (≥16 vs. <16 h, OR 2.1), nausea (OR 1.7), sport mechanism (OR 1.7), and amnesia (OR 1.6). CONCLUSIONS: Relative to international criteria, the more selective assignment of concussion by emergency physicians was associated with a greater frequency of persistent concussion symptoms. In addition, while most children meeting international criteria for concussion were also provided this diagnosis for concussion by an emergency physician, the presence of 5 specific variables made this diagnosis more likely.


  • Boutis, Kathy
  • Gravel, Jocelyn
  • Freedman, Stephen B
  • Craig, William
  • Tang, Ken
  • DeMatteo, Carol
  • Dubrovsky, Alexander Sasha
  • Beer, Darcy
  • Burns, Emma
  • Sangha, Gurinder
  • Zemek, Roger

publication date

  • June 2018