AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 4, 2018

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Youth TBI Laws Promote Head Injury Evaluation in Emergency Department

Millions of children and teens are affected by sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) annually. To help reduce the effects of TBIs in youth sports, all 50 states and the District of Columbia enacted state youth TBI laws between 2009 and 2014. A new study from researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital examined the effectiveness of these laws by looking at sports and recreation mild TBI (mTBI)-related emergency department (ED) visits for children ages 5 to 18 years before and after TBI legislation was enacted in each state. Specifically, researchers looked at ED visits from 2006 through 2014 for  diagnosis of mTBI and compared them with diagnoses of moderate to severe TBI, minor head injury, and long bone fracture.

The study found that when youth TBI legislation is enacted, utilization of the ED for youth sports and recreation-related mTBI evaluations increase. “This is what we want to see,” said Ginger Yang, PhD, MPH, senior author of the study and principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s. “An increase in ED visits for youth sports TBIs shows the laws are working – more children are getting evaluated by a healthcare professional, which is one of the key tenets of youth TBI laws.” The laws also contribute to an increased awareness of youth TBIs, which may prompt many athletes, parents, trainers, and coaches to seek out evaluation for a suspected or actual TBI.

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