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Head Injury Doubles Risk Of Second Within 6 Months, Study Says

An Canadian study reported in the April 2007 issue of Pediatrics says children receiving emergency room treatment for a head injury (HI) are nearly twice as likely to experience another HI requiring medical attention in the next six months compared to children who initially visited the ER for a non-head related injury.

The Canadian study is consistent with earlier study finding that once an athlete suffers a concussion, the risk of suffering a second concussion is three to four times greater.

Researchers interviewed parents of more than eleven thousand children ages one to 18 years treated for injuries in the emergency rooms of two Montreal hospitals. They found that children who sustained a concussion, skull fracture or intracranial injury were more than twice as likely to suffer a subsequent HI of similar type within six months than are children seeking care for an injury not related to the head, regardless of their age.

The study, however, was unable to determine the reasons for the increased risk, finding that they multiple factors "involving a complex interaction between children and their personal and social environments"(such as participation in contact sports, less parental supervision, and/or less use of prevention strategies) likely put children suffering a HI at greater risk for a second head injury.

Prevention Strategies Not Working

A cause for concern was theĀ finding that "most current prevention strategies, aimed in part at reducing the risk of subsequent head injury (or the duration of post-concussion signs and symptoms) do not seem to have been successful." The study found thatĀ  children who received instructions about activity restrictions tended to be at increased risk.

The authors also suggested that, "given that the majority of subsequent HIs were found to occur 5 or 6 months after the initial HI, a 4-week restriction of activity may need to be reexamined."