Children and adolescents without a history of headache may develop prolonged headaches after sustaining a concussion, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Child Neurology Society. The headache may be migraine, chronic daily headache, tension-type headache, or a combination of these headaches.
“We strongly recommend that individuals who develop persistent headache after a concussion be evaluated and treated by a neurologist with experience in administering treatment for headache,” said Marcus Barissi, Weller Scholar at the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues. “Using this approach, we hope that their prolonged headaches will be lessened.”
Few studies have examined prolonged pediatric postconcussion headache
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 1.6 million and 3.8 million concussions occur annually during athletic and recreational activities in the United States. About 90% of concussions affect children or adolescents. The symptom most often reported after concussion is headache.
Few studies have focused on new persistent postconcussion headache (NPPCH) in children. Mr. Barissi and colleagues did not find any previous study that had examined prolonged headache following concussion in patients without prior chronic headache. They sought to ascertain the prognosis of patients with NPPCH and no history of prior headache, to describe this clinical entity, and to identify beneficial treatment methods.
The investigators retrospectively reviewed charts for approximately 2,000 patients who presented to the Cleveland Clinic pediatric neurology department between June 2017 and August 2018 for headaches. They identified 259 patients who received a diagnosis of concussion, 69 (27%) of whom had headaches for longer than 2 months after injury.
Mr. Barissi and colleagues emailed these patients, and 33 (48%) of them agreed to complete a questionnaire and participate in a 10-minute phone interview. Thirty-one patients (43%) could not be contacted, and eight (11%) declined to participate. All participants confirmed that they had not had consistent headache before the concussion and that chronic headache had arisen after concussion. To determine participants’ medical outcomes, the researchers compared participants’ initial assessment data with posttreatment data collected during the interview process.