Current Content
Volume 39 - Number 6
November - December 2013

Preschool Children with Head Injury: Comparing Injury Severity Measures And Clinical Care
JoAnne M. Youngblut, Carmen Caicedo, and Dorothy Brooten

The purpose of this study was to compare child, hospital course, and discharge characteristics by admitting unit, injury type, head Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS), and Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), and test congruence of AIS and GCS categories. Chart data were collected from seven hospitals on 183 preschool children with head injury (90 admitted to PICU, 93 to general care unit). Injury events included falls (n = 89, 49%), hit by car (n = 35, 19%), motor vehicle crashes (n = 26, 14%), bicycle crashes (n = 12, 7%), and blunt traumas (n = 21, 11%). Most children (68%) had head injuries only, 20% had other fractures, 5% had organ damage, and 7% had all three. Injury severity was measured by head AIS and GCS scores. Treatments and procedures included tubes/lines, blood/blood products, and medications. Children with head injuries only had fewer hospital days, less severe head injuries, and near normal GCS scores. They were less likely to have tubes/lines and medications. Children were discharged with medications (61%) and medical equipment (14%). Five children were discharged to long-term care facilities, and five were discharged to rehabilitation facilities. Concordance of head AIS and GCS categories occurred for only 50 (28%) children. Although the GCS is the gold standard for identifying changes in neurological status, it was not as helpful in representing hospital care. Head AIS injury categories clustered children in more homogeneous groups and better represented hospital care. Head AIS categories are better indicators of injury severity and care provided than GCS. Head injury AIS score may be an important addition to GCS for guiding care.