More than 90% of ED visits for sport-related brain injuries receive a concussion diagnosis

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July 26, 2016 — Over the last 5 years, the number of emergency department (ED) visits for sport-related brain injuries increased significantly in Ontario and Alberta.

According to the newest injury and trauma data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), more than 9 out of 10 (94%) ED visits for sport-related brain injuries in 2014–2015 were concussion related. Furthermore, more than 6 out of 10 ED visits for sport-related brain injuries (62%) were made by males. This is the first time CIHI has published data on ED visits and hospitalizations for sport-related brain injuries.

Over the past 5 years, the increase in the number of ED visits for sport-related brain injuries was highest among the younger age groups. The data showed a 78% increase in ED visits among 0- to 9-year-olds and a 45% increase among 10- to 17-year-olds. The number of inpatient hospital admissions for sport-related brain injuries remained stable during this period.

Hockey, cycling and football/rugby were the sports that sent the largest number of patients to the ED for brain injuries. The number of ED visits for brain injuries from hockey was almost double that from cycling, football/rugby and skiing/snowboarding. Other causes of brain injury–related ED visits included being hit by a ball.

Unintentional falls represented highest proportion of injury-related ED visits and hospitalizations

Unintentional falls continued to account for a large percentage of injury-related ED visits and hospitalizations. Where data was available in 2014–2015, falls accounted for 593,441 ED visits, which represented 31% of all injury-related ED visits. Almost 146,000 falls resulted in hospitalization across Canada, accounting for 57% of all injury-related hospitalizations. Canadians age 65 and older made more than 161,000 ED visits for unintentional falls, accounting for more than 27% of all reported injury-related ED visits for that cause.

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“Concussions make up the majority of sport-related brain injuries in Canada. The data provides an indication of how many Canadians from just 2 provinces are going to the emergency department and are being hospitalized as a result of these kinds of injuries, which can have serious long-term consequences. Through increased prevention efforts, the risk of these significant injuries can be reduced.”

— Greg Webster, Director, Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services, CIHI

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