Head On CollisionOctober 12, 2017
Talk of head injuries and concussions is at an all-time high. This week, we break down what parents of young children should know, and how to respond.
Routine Head Injuries
- Head injury is a common issue in children
- From falling off a bed or a slide, to walking into a table corner, to a sports injury, many kids experience a head injury (or two!) in childhood
- Of course, trying to avoid head injuries is the first step
- Never leave a baby unattended on a bed/changing table or unstrapped in a stroller
- Baby proof the corners of tables and furniture
- Wear helmets when riding bikes, playing certain sports
- Supervise children at playgrounds and when playing outdoors
And yet, even with precautions injuries can occur.
- Certainly have your child checked out if:
- Child is under 12 months
- Fall is from greater than 3 feet
- Child loses consciousness
- Swelling on the head (especially if on an area of the head besides the forehead)
- Child not acting normal (overly sleepy, irritable)
- Neurological changes noted (unable to walk)
Many minor injuries where your child falls, cries immediately and has no signs on the head of injury and is acting normally, can just be monitored at home for 4-6 hrs.
- When in doubt, have your child seen by a doctor!
- Most often children are just carefully examined and observed closely for 4-6 hours. CT scans of children are only done if there are concerning signs in an effort to reduce radiation of children.
What about Concussions?
- A concussion is a mild brain injury caused by an injury to the head or neck. Typical brain imaging is normal. Symptoms of concussions can vary.
- 25-50% of concussions are caused by Sports and recreational activity injuries.
- Sports most at risk for boys: rugby, football, ice hockey, lacrosse
- Sports most at risk for girls: soccer, lacrosse and field hockey
- Recreationally: biking, skateboarding, ice skating and skiing
- Signs and symptoms
- Dizziness or feeling unsteady
- Difficulty concentrating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems with memory
- Sensitivity to bright lights or noise
- Acting more emotional – laughing or crying easily
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty walking or talking
- If your child has a head injury concerning for a possible concussion, he or she should stop playing the sport and get checked out by a doctor. Do not rely on your child telling you they are ok to play!
- There are no blood tests or imaging studies that are recommended to diagnose a concussion.
- A careful history and exam by a doctor are recommended to make the diagnosis. Sometimes neurological testing can be done to help assess concentration, memory and other issues that can occur with concussion.
- There is no medication to treat a concussion.
- “Brain rest” after a concussion is what is recommended to help the brain heal. This means limit activities which require a lot of thinking (including school work) or a lot stimulation of the brain (like video games, texting) until symptoms of the concussion improve.
- Most important is to avoid repeat head injury while the brain is recovering. This could cause long term problems to your child’s brain.
- Your child should not return to playing sports until your child’s symptoms of concussion have resolved and the doctor says your child is ready to play again.
Some children recover very quickly from concussions, others may have symptoms for weeks. If your child’s symptoms are not improving in a few weeks or if your child develops worsening symptoms, call your doctor.
For more information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics