A child’s head injury can have devastating effects.  To reduce the risk of the injured child suffering a second and perhaps worse injury, medical professionals should use the term “mild traumatic brain injury” to describe the child’s head injury rather than “concussion.”

In a study to be published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, Carol DeMatteo, an associate clinical professor at McMaster University in the School of Rehabilitation Science, found that children whose injuries are labeled as "concussion" are allowed fewer days in the hospital and are sent back to school sooner than their counterparts with head injuries not diagnosed as "concussion."

Our study suggests that if a child is given a diagnosis of a concussion, the family is less likely to consider it an actual injury to the brain. These children may be sent back to school or allowed to return to activity sooner, and maybe before they should. This puts them at greater risk for a second injury, poor school performance and wondering what is wrong with them.

Professor DeMatteo said using the term "mild traumatic brain injury" instead of "concussion" will help people to better understand what they are dealing with so that they can make decisions accordingly.