Date of Graduation

Spring 2013


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Rose Utley


Over half a million children between the ages of 0-14 years were diagnosed with head injury (HI) between 2002-2006. It is the leading cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality. Head CT scans are the "gold standard" for HI imaging, yet they are not always indicated in patients with a HI. This study aimed to determine the characteristics of pediatric trauma patients that are associated with HI and positive head CT scans. The study was completed through a retrospective analysis of 95 pediatric patients who presented to a mid-western level two trauma center from January 2011- January 2012 with the complaint of HI. The study found that children with a positive head CT scan had a gender distribution that was largely equal, the majority were 0-24 months of age, and falls were their most common mechanism of injury (MOI). Children in the study were more likely to have a positive CT scan when time post injury could not be determined, when they did not experience a loss of consciousness, and when they had a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 13-15. They were also more likely to deny headache and vomiting. No definitive conclusions could be drawn about positive head CT and seizure activity, pupil reactivity, dizziness, and/or confusion. Limitations to the study were related to sample size, missing data from the electronic health record, MOI limits, extraneous factors influencing ordering, and injuries classified as other. This study has implications for improving practice, education, and policy and in the development of future research.


pediatric head injury, head computed tomography, head trauma, mechanism of injury, characteristics of head injury

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© Trisha Ann Orrell

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