Concussions in children are not being taken seriously enough, a new study suggests.
The study, from McMaster University researchers, found kids diagnosed with concussions returned to school quicker and spent fewer days in hospital than peers whose head injuries were diagnosed as something else.
Carol DeMatteo, an associate clinical professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science, and her research team at McMaster University analyzed medical records for 434 children at the McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton with the diagnosis of acquired brain injury.
It was noted that of the 341 children with traumatic brain injury, 300 children had a severity score recorded and, of that group, 32 per cent received a concussion diagnosis.
Also, it was learnt that that despite the severity of the injury, children with the concussion label stayed fewer days in hospital.
The concussion label was also a strong predictor of earlier discharge from hospital.
DeMatteo said: "Even children with quite serious injuries can be labelled as having a concussion.
"Concussion seems to be less alarming than 'mild brain injury' so it may be used to convey an injury that should have a good outcome, does not have structural brain damage and symptoms that will pass."
"Our study suggests that if a child is given a diagnosis of a concussion, the family is less likely to consider it an actual injury to the brain.
"These children may be sent back to school or allowed to return to activity sooner, and maybe before they should. This puts them at greater risk for a second injury, poor school performance and wondering what is wrong with them."
DeMatteo concluded that using the term "mild traumatic brain injury" instead of "concussion" would be a more prudent thing to do.
The study has been published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics.