Systematic review of the clinical course, natural history, and prognosis for pediatric mild traumatic brain injury: results of the International Collaboration on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Prognosis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Mar;95(3 Suppl):S174-91. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.08.301.


Objective: To synthesize the best available evidence on prognosis after pediatric mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

Data sources: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus (2001-2012), as well as reference lists of eligible articles, and relevant systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Study selection: Controlled trials and cohort and case-control studies were selected according to predefined criteria. Studies had to have a minimum of 30 MTBI pediatric cases. After 77,914 records were screened for the entire review, 299 studies were eligible and assessed for scientific rigor.

Data extraction: Eligible studies were critically appraised using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) criteria. Two reviewers independently reviewed each study and extracted data from accepted articles into evidence tables.

Data synthesis: Evidence from 25 accepted articles was synthesized qualitatively according to SIGN criteria, and prognostic information was prioritized according to design as exploratory or confirmatory. Most studies show that postconcussion symptoms and cognitive deficits resolve over time. Limited evidence suggests that postconcussion symptoms may persist in those with lower cognitive ability and intracranial pathology on neuroimaging. Preliminary evidence suggests that the risk of epilepsy is increased for up to 10 years after MTBI; however, there is insufficient high-quality evidence at this time to support this link.

Conclusions: Common post-MTBI symptoms and deficits in children are not specific to MTBI and appear to resolve with time; however, limited evidence suggests that children with intracranial pathology on imaging may experience persisting symptoms or deficits. Well-designed, long-term studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Child; Craniocerebral trauma; Prognosis; Recovery of function; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Disabled Children / statistics & numerical data
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Trauma Severity Indices*
  • Triage