Emergency department (ED) visits for sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have risen. This study evaluated how the number and severity of admissions have changed as ED visits for sports-related TBIs have increased.
A retrospective study of children aged 0 to 19 years at a level 1 trauma center was performed. Patients from 2002 to 2011 with a primary or secondary diagnosis of TBI were identified from the hospital’s inpatient and outpatient trauma registries. Frequencies were used to characterize the population, χ2 analysis was performed to determine differences between groups, and regression analysis looked at relationship between year and injury severity score or length of stay.
Sport was responsible for injury in 3878 (15.4%) cases during the study period; 3506 (90.4%) were discharged from the hospital, and 372 (9.6%) were admitted. Seventy-three percent were male patients and 78% Caucasian; mean age was 13 ± 3.5 years. ED visits for sports-related TBIs increased 92% over the study period, yet there was no significant change (χ2 = 9.8, df = 9, P = .37) in the percentage of children admitted. Mean injury severity score for those admitted decreased from 7.8 to 4.8 (β = –0.46; P = .006); length of stay trended downward (β = –0.05; P = .05).
The percentage of children being admitted from the ED with sports-related TBI has not changed over the past 10 years. The severity of admitted sports-related TBI is decreasing. Additional research is needed to correlate these trends with other TBI mechanisms.