Postconcussive Symptoms and Neurocognitive Function After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Children

OBJECTIVESWe describe children's postconcussive symptoms (PCSs), neurocognitive function, and recovery during 4 to 5 weeks after mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and compare performance and recovery with those of injured control group participants without MTBIs. METHODSA prospective, longitudinal, observational study was performed with a convenience sample from a tertiary care, pediatric emergency department. Participants were children 10 to 17 years of age who were treated in the emergency department and discharged. The MTBI group included patients with blunt head trauma, Glasgow Coma Scale scores of 13 to 15, loss of consciousness for [≤]30 minutes, posttraumatic amnesia of [≤]24 hours, altered mental status, or focal neurologic deficits, and no intracranial abnormalities. The control group included patients with injuries excluding the head. The Post-Concussion Symptom Questionnaire and domain-specific neurocognitive tests were completed at baseline and at 1 and 4 to 5 weeks after injury. RESULTSTwenty-eight MTBI group participants and 45 control group participants were compared. There were no significant differences in demographic features. Control group participants reported some PCSs; however, MTBI group participants reported significantly more PCSs at all times. Among MTBI group participants, PCSs persisted for 5 weeks after injury, decreasing significantly between 1 and 4 to 5 weeks. Patterns of recovery on the Trail-Making Test Part B differed significantly between groups; performance on other neurocognitive measures did not differ. CONCLUSIONSIn children 10 to 17 years of age, self-reported PCSs were not exclusive to patients with MTBIs. However, PCSs and recovery patterns for the Trail-Making Test Part B differed significantly between the groups.