The brain is encased with a hard outer shell that helps to protect it from injury, but even that protection isn’t always enough to prevent a serious head trauma from occurring. Children are at particularly high risk of experiencing a head injury due to their enthusiastic use of skateboards, bicycles, roller skates, and their overall fearlessness when it comes to play activities. It can be difficult as a parent to know whether a head trauma is serious or whether it’s just another bump on the head, particularly if you didn’t witness the event. How can you tell if a head trauma in a child is serious?
If your child comes to you, claiming to have hit his head, what signs should you look for that would suggest a serious head trauma? First, you should check the area where the bump or trauma occurred on the head to make sure there’s no cut or laceration that needs to be sewn up at the emergency room. Once you’ve addressed this issue, it’s important to determine the circumstances around which the head injury occurred. If your child’s friends report that your child passed out after a head trauma or was unresponsive for any period of time, your child needs to be seen in the emergency room. Other signs that your child needs immediate evaluation include severe headache, drowsiness, vomiting, behavioral changes, visual changes, or seizures.
It’s not uncommon after a head trauma for a child to have a mild headache and tenderness at the site where the bump occurred. The least serious type of head injury is known as a concussion which occurs when the brain is jarred or abuts against the interior of the skull causing a temporary decline in brain function. Concussions are fairly common among children and generally resolve without permanent damage. Once a child has had a concussion, he or she may be more susceptible to a second one. Keep in mind that a child can sustain a concussion without passing out. Children who have a head trauma or bump on the head should be monitored closely whether or not they lose consciousness. More severe types of head injury include bruising of the brain known as a contusion or a collection of blood that develops on the brain due to a head trauma. This is known as a hematoma. If the blow is severe, the skull can also be fractured. These are all medical emergencies that need immediate evaluation.
When in doubt about a head injury or bump on the head experienced by your child, have him evaluated by your doctor or emergency room. A head trauma can be difficult to evaluate in a child and you don’t want to take any chances with the future health of your child’s brain. Also consider buying cool looking helmets your kids can wear when they’re riding their bike or skate boarding. It could save their life.