2004 - 2013 Emergency Department Visits for Concussions Indicator Report

Purpose of the Health Indicator Report

To provide information on emergency department visits due to concussions among Halton and Ontario residents.

Background

A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the head hits an object, or a moving object hits the head, causing the brain to move back and forth rapidly in the skull.1 Concussions are common sports injuries, especially among children and youth.1 Without proper management, concussions may lead to permanent and severe brain damage.1 There are many ways to reduce chances of getting a concussion, including wearing a helmet and other protective equipment when riding a bike or playing sports, wearing a seatbelt, using car safety seats or booster seats for children, and taking steps to improve safety and reduce the risk of falls.2

This report only includes concussions diagnosed at an emergency department (ED), not concussions diagnosed by a primary care physician, at a walk-in clinic, or concussions of residents who do not seek any medical care.

Key Findings

Overall Findings and Trends Over Time

  • In 2013, the age-standardized rate of emergency department (ED) visits with a diagnosis of a concussion was lower among Halton residents [159(±11) per 100,000] compared to Ontario residents [202(±3) per 100,000], and this difference was statistically significant.
  • From 2004 to 2013 the age-standardized rate of ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion increased among both Halton and Ontario residents, and these increases were statistically significant.
    • For Halton residents rates increased from [69(±8) per 100,000] to [159(±11) per 100,000].
    • For Ontario residents rates increased from [87(±2) per 100,000] to [202(±3) per 100,000].

Note: It is not possible to determine if the observed increase in the rate of ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion over time in both Halton and Ontario is related an increase in the incidence of concussions, increased awareness of concussions and subsequent health issues, or both.

Sex

  • In 2012/13, Halton males [167(±12) per 100,000] had a higher age-standardized rate of ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion than females [123(±10) per 100,000], and this difference was statistically significant.

Age

  • In 2012/13, the age-specific rate of ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion was almost twice as high among Halton residents aged 5-19 compared to residents aged 20-24, and more than three times as high as any other age group. Starting at ages 5-19, the age specific rate of ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion decreased as age increased.

Municipality

  • In 2012/13, Milton [199(±22) per 100,000)] had the highest age-standardized rate of ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion, followed by Halton Hills [173(±24) per 100,000], Oakville [157(±13) per 100,000] and Burlington [100(±11) per 100,000]. These differences were statistically significant when comparing Burlington to all other municipalities, and when comparing Oakville to Milton.

Neighbourhood Income

  • In 2012/13, the age-standardized rate of ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion increased as income increased. These differences were statistically significant when comparing the low income group [101(±44) per 100,000] to the high income group [182(±11) per 100,000].

Note: The increase in ED visits with a diagnosis of a concussion as income increases is similar to the pattern seen with income and sports and recreation injuries. This may be related to different opportunities and exposure to sports activities for people from different socioeconomic levels due to the high cost of enrolment and equipment. For more information on sports and recreation injuries, see the Halton Injury Report. 

References

  1. Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (2014). Concussions. Accessed April 2015 from http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/concussions/ (external link)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d). Heads Up: Preventing Concussion. Accessed April 2015 from http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/concussions/ (external link) / http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/custom/headsupconcussion_fact_sheet_for_parents.pdf (external PDF file)