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New ground: Better Outcomes for Children With Concussions

Research stories March 14, 2021
Dr. Keith Yeates

With the support of a Brain Canada Improving Health Outcomes and Quality of Life Team Grant, Dr. Keith Yeates of the University of Calgary is leading a study evaluating the implementation and impact of a clinical pathway for acute care of pediatric concussion. The project aims to design a robust implementation plan, evaluate its impact on patient outcomes, and determine whether it leads to a reduction of health care utilization and costs. The clinical pathway will be implemented at four sites in Alberta over two years. The ultimate goal of the study is to improve the health outcomes of children and adolescents diagnosed with concussion by providing up-to-date and evidence-based information on concussion symptoms, management, and follow-up care.

Clinical practice guidelines are available to guide the management of pediatric concussion, but are not systematically implemented in clinical settings, resulting in significant practice variation and non-optimal outcomes. The funding provided by Brain Canada and our partner, Alberta Health Services, has allowed us to develop, implement, and examine the effects of a clinical pathway to guide the care of children with concussions,” said Dr. Yeates. “No published studies have rigorously evaluated the implementation of a clinical pathway for the management of pediatric concussion. The project breaks new ground in efforts to promote better outcomes for children with concussion and reduce the attendant public health burden.”

To improve outcomes for children with concussions who are seen in emergency departments, the study has developed tools to help physicians and nurses provide better care and to help families learn more about, assess, and monitor concussion. One of the tools created through the grant is the RECOVER Concussion web portal (www.recoverconcussion.ca). The portal provides information and resources about concussion in children to help families better understand common symptoms of concussion, where and when to seek medical care, and how to monitor and manage symptoms to promote optimal recovery. In addition, several handouts have been created for pediatric emergency rooms, including “Pediatric Emergency Department Concussion Teaching Handout” and “Concussion, Pediatric - Emergency Recommendations.”

As a result of this study, one publication has been submitted to the journal Health Services Research and several others are currently in preparation. Dr. Yeates is also a co-investigator on a separate research grant, which will replicate the CBRF-funded project in Australia