New research suggests that the prevalence of headaches following mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) is highest in teenagers and girls aged 13 years to aged 17 years. The study, titled, “Headache After Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury: A Cohort Study,” was led by Heidi Blume, MD, MPH, of the Seattle, Wash-based Seattle Children’s Research Institute along with principal investigator Fred Rivera, MD, MPH, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, University of Washington, also based in Seattle.

The study results indicate that headaches can be a key issue, affecting some children who are aged 5 years to aged 12 years, following TBI. Researchers say 3 months following a mild TBI, 43% of children reported headaches. Among those who suffered a moderate to severe TBI, 37% of children reported headaches and a total of 26% also reported headaches in the control group.

According to the study’s authors, TBI response and recovery varies among children, adolescents, and adults. The authors add that males and females are likely to exhibit different symptoms and recovery. Results highlighted a greater risk of headache in adolescents and in girls aged 13 years to aged 17 years. 

“Our findings indicate that children and adolescents suffer from TBI-associated headaches yearly. In addition, the prevalence of headache following mild TBI appears to follow a pattern we see primarily in headache disorders such as migraine,” Blume explains. Blume adds that further research will allow for the examination of potential similarities in the cause of migraine and post-traumatic headaches, and the determination of whether migraine therapies will work for post-traumatic headaches.

Blume advises parents, particularly of girls and teenagers, to be aware of what to expect after a mild TBI, which may occur as a result of a sports-related injury. Blume recommends regular sleep, regular meals, appropriate activity, relaxation, and avoiding irritants that can make a headache worse, to manage headaches in children and adolescents.

Source: Seattle Children’s Research Institute