Emergency medicine researchers at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation have launched recommendations aimed at treating children and teens with concussions.

Project leader Dr. Roger Zemek, director of pediatric emergency research at CHEO,​ said there was a need for recommendations specifically covering children five to 18 years old, since existing guidelines focus on adults and sport-related injuries.

"Children and adolescents are actually at a higher risk of developing concussions than adults, and we also know that children are at a higher risk of having prolonged symptoms," Zemek said Wednesday. 

"There's been recommendations out there for adults, there's been recommendations specific to sports, but we know that children do not necessarily act like little adults at all times and we know that the developing brain is unique."

The first comprehensive set of pediatric concussion guidelines were written to inform health-care providers, parents, teachers and coaches, Zemek said.

He said the thrust of the guidelines cover:

  • How to recognize a concussion.
  • How to determine if a family doctor, emergency doctor or pediatric specialist is needed.
  • Ultimately, how to treat a concussion with rest. 

The project team spent more than two years reviewing some 4,000 academic papers in a range of pediatric health disciplines, including emergency medicine, family practitioners, neurologists and rehabilitation professionals, he said.

Click here to access the guidelines for pediatric concussions online.