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Concussion hospital visits increase in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

A new study released Monday in the online version of the Journal Pediatrics finds a 92% increase in the number of children and teens going to the hospital emergency room with sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI), such as concussions.

The study looked at more than 3,800 kids who came to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center with a sports-related TBI between 2002 and 2011. Lead Researcher Holly Hanson, MD, an emergency medicine fellow, says more people are being treated in the emergency room and more are being admitted for observation. Hanson expects the number to increase. "Here in Cincinnati, we anticipate more children will be seeing their primary care physician or going to the Cincinnati Children's TBI clinic, due to the passage of recent Ohio legislation mandating medical clearance to return to play."

The signs of concussions:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping more or less than normal
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Mood swings

The research

  • 3,800 came to Children's from 2002-2011
  • 372 were admitted
  • Injury severity decreased from 7.8 to 4.8
  • Highest admission rates were from skiing, sledding, inline skating and skateboarding

Why the increase

Although the study didn't focus on why more kids are coming to the hospital, Hanson speculates emergency physicians may be ordering fewer CT scans and observing patients in the hospital. Another reason could be athletes are getting bigger and stronger, causing more head injuries that need longer periods of observation.

Nationwide numbers (according to the CDC)

  • TBI caused 630,000 emergency visits
  • More than 67,000 hospitalizations
  • 6,100 deaths
  • Medical evaluations increased 62%

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.