Concussive symptoms in emergency department patients diagnosed with minor head injury

J Emerg Med. 2011 Mar;40(3):262-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.08.017. Epub 2009 Jan 20.


Background: Evidence-based protocols exist for Emergency Department (ED) patients diagnosed with minor head injury. These protocols focus on the need for acute intervention or in-hospital management. The frequency and nature of concussive symptoms experienced by patients discharged from the ED are not well understood.

Objectives: To examine the prevalence and nature of concussive symptoms, up to 1 month post-presentation, among ED patients diagnosed with minor head injury.

Methods: Eligible and consenting patients presenting to Kingston EDs with minor head injury (n = 94) were recruited for study. The Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire was administered at baseline and at 1 month post-injury to assess concussive symptoms. This analysis focused upon acute and ongoing symptoms.

Results: Proportions of patients reporting concussive symptoms were 68/94 (72%) at baseline and 59/94 (63%) at follow-up. Seventeen percent of patients (18/102) were investigated with computed tomography scanning during their ED encounter. The prevalence of somatic symptoms declined between baseline and follow-up, whereas some cognitive and emotional symptoms persisted.

Conclusion: The majority of patients who present to the ED with minor head injuries suffer from concussive symptoms that do not resolve quickly. This information should be incorporated into discharge planning for these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Emergency Treatment / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Patient Discharge
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult