Does concussion in children affect post-acute phase development of intelligence?
Assure parents that intelligence, on average, does not seem to be affected by mild concussion.
This study enrolled 1282 children, from 8 years up to 17 years of age (average = 12 years), who were evaluated in emergency departments in Canada or the United States within 24 to 48 hours of acute blunt head trauma or an upper or lower extremity fracture due to blunt trauma. In this way, they could evaluate children over time who experienced either mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or orthopedic injury (OI). Mild TBI was defined as observed loss of consciousness, a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 13 or 14 (or 15 with at least one sign of concussion). Analysis was performed on 866 children (68%) for whom intelligence testing was performed and validated. Intellectual functioning as measured by the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Second Edition, and the Medical Symptom Validity Test was conducted 3 to 18 days postinjury in 217 children and 3 months postinjury in 719 children. There were slight decreases in IQ in the TBI group as compared with the OI group initially, which disappeared over time. One note: Intelligence has many facets, and this study did not measure all of them. For example, there could have been changes to processing speed or working memory that weren't captured by this testing.
Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, MMedEd
Professor of Family Medicine