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Head Trauma in Children: what to watch for and when to be concerned.



We've all been there. Your child is playing and then the dreadful thud followed by a shrill cry or worse...silence. As a Registered Nurse who spent 4 years working on a neurological unit I've cared for patients with the worst of the worst head injuries and let me tell you it is something you want to try and avoid at all costs. The brain is the control center and any damage to it can cause a lifetime of problems.


Here is a breakdown of what to watch for if your child hits their head. My hope is it will take away some of the worry of what to do; act as a guide of sorts.


Your child is doing XYZ and hits their head: What to watch for...


Step 1: First thing to ask yourself: did they cry for a little bit and move on with their day? Or were they quiet, dazed, or confused? How are they behaving?

If something is wrong with your child they will let you know by how they are behaving.


If they go back to playing, relax!


If it's the latter, you move onto Step 2.


Step 2: What are their symptoms?


After hitting their head are they:

Irritable?

Confused?

Sensitive to light?

Complaining of dizziness or blurred vision?

Acting extra sleepy or lethargic?

Experiencing a headache or ringing in the ears?

Having changes in memory or concentration?


These can all be signs of a mild head injury and may warrant a call to your trusted healthcare provider (HCP) for guidance, whether it's keeping a close eye on them for half a day or getting the injury examined.


Step 3: What are their symptoms?


After hitting their head are they:

Unconscious?

Experiencing severe headache that won't go away?

Experiencing nausea and/or vomiting?

Experiencing loss of short term memory (can't remember what happened)?

Is their speech slurred?

Are they having difficulty walking?

Having changes in behavior or acting "off"?

Experiencing sweating, weakness on one side of the body, dilated pupils (pupils look larger than usual), blood or clear drainage from nose or ears?


These can all be signs of a moderate to severe head injury and might suggest a trip to the ER is necessary.


GOOSE EGGS:

If your child hits their head and develops a goose egg, (protruding bruise or lump on the head caused by trauma to the skin and broken blood vessels) it's usually ok. Just pay attention to if they have any other symptoms. You can apply ice to minimize swelling and I personally like using essential oils like frankincense and lavender applied topically to aid in healing.


SLEEP + HEAD INJURY:


Always follow your intuition but if your child is behaving fine I wouldn't wake them to check on them. If you're worried enough that you feel the need to check on them you should probably get them looked at or consult with your healthcare provider.


https://childrensmd.org/browse-by-topic/head-injuries-children-when-should-parents-worry/

PREVENTION:


The best approach to head injuries is to try and avoid them altogether. We can't keep our children wrapped in bubble wrap at all times (nor would we want to) but we CAN use common sense to minimize risk.


  • Make sure your child is wearing a helmet when riding any motorized vehicle, (four wheeler, atv, hover board), bicycle, horse, skateboard, etc.

  • Helmets during contact or extreme sports such as baseball and football, skiing, snowboarding, etc.

  • Always use appropriate child safety seating when traveling in a vehicle.

  • Avoid placing young children in a seat with an air bag. Learn your vehicle to see if an airbag will become deactivated unless the person sitting in that seat is over a certain weight.


Hope this helps you keep those babies safe and healthy!


XX, Erin

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