Head Injury: How to help your child overcome the pain?

 In Pediatric Healthcare

Head injury is the most sensitive injury. The injury requires utmost care and medical attention for the child.

Head injury may occur on the scalp, skull or even brain of the child.

Let us look at some common forms of head injuries:

Scalp Injury:

  • Most head injuries only damage the scalp.
  • Examples are a cut, scrape, bruise or swelling.
  • It is common for children to fall and hit their head while growing up.
  • This is especially common when a child is learning to walk.
  • Big lumps (bruises) can occur with minor injuries.
  • Bruises on the forehead sometimes cause black eyes 1 to 3 days later.


Skull Fracture:

  • Only 1% to 2% of children with head injuries will get a skull fracture.
  • Most often, there are no other symptoms except for a headache.
  • The headache occurs at the site where the head was hit.
  • Most skull fractures occur without any injury to the brain. They heal easily.


Concussion: A concussion is a type of brain injury. It causes a change in how the brain works for a short time.


  • It is usually caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head. Most children bump or hit their heads without causing a concussion.
  • The most common signs are a brief period of confusion or memory loss. This happens after the injury.
  • Other signs of a concussion can include a headache or vomiting. Dizziness or acting dazed can also be signs.
  • A person does not need to be knocked out to have had a concussion. Following a concussion, some children have ongoing symptoms.
  • These can include headaches, dizziness or thinking difficulties. School problems or emotional changes can occur.
  • The symptoms can last for several weeks.


Brain Injuries: (Serious)

  • Brain Injuries  include bleeding, bruises or swelling within the brain.
  • Hard to wake up or keep awake
  • Acts or talks confused
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness of arms or legs
  • Walking is not steady.
  • These symptoms are an emergency. If they happen, call 911



How to tackle the injury?

Head injury can develop into a serious issue in absence of proper medical care. As a parent one should be aware of the severity of the situation. Following are few points to help:


Call 911 Now

  • Seizure occurred
  • Knocked out (unconscious) for more than 1 minute
  • Not moving neck normally. Caution: protect the neck from any movement.
  • Hard to wake up
  • Acts or talks confused or slurred speech present now
  • Walking not steady or weakness of arms/legs present now
  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency


Go to ER Now

  • Mild concussion suspected (awake but not alert, not focused, slow to respond)
  • Neck pain after head injury
  • Had confused talking, slurred speech, unsteady walking or weakness of arms/legs but fine now
  • Blurred vision lasted more than 5 minutes
  • Injury caused by high speed (car crash)
  • Vomited 2 or more times
  • Severe headache or crying that won't stop
  • Can't remember what happened or store new memories
  • Large deep cut that will need many stitches


Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Age less than 1 year old
  • Knocked out (unconscious) for less than 1 minute
  • Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
  • Bleeding that won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Large swelling (larger than 1 inch or 2.5 cm)
  • Large dent in skull
  • Blow from hard object (such as a golf club)
  • Fall from a dangerous height
  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent


Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Headache lasts more than 24 hours
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
  • Dirty cut and no tetanus shot in more than 5 years
  • Clean cut and no tetanus shot in more than 10 years
  • You have other questions or concerns


Self care advice

If not serious, head injury can be remedied at home. Few tips:


  1. Wound Care:
    • If there is a scrape or cut, wash it off with soap and water.
    • For any bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound. Use a gauze pad or clean cloth. Press for 10 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped.
  2. Cold Pack For Swelling:
    • Use a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth. Put it on any swelling. Do this for 20 minutes. It prevents big lumps ("goose eggs"). Also, helps with the pain.
    • Repeat in 1 hour, then as needed.
  3. Watch Your Child Closely for 2 Hours:
    • Watch your child closely during the first 2 hours after the injury.
    • Have your child lie down and rest until all symptoms have cleared. Note: mild headache, mild dizziness and nausea are common.
    • Allow your child to sleep if he wants to, but keep him nearby.
    • Wake him up after 2 hours of sleeping. Check that he is alert and knows who you are. Also, check that he can talk and walk normally.
  4. Diet - Start With Clear Fluids:
    • Offer only clear fluids to drink, in case he vomits.
    • Allow a regular diet after 2 hours.
    • Exception: babies can continue breastfeeding or formula.
  5. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol). Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil). Use as needed.
    • Exception: Do not give until 2 hours have passed from injury without any vomiting.
    • Caution: Never give aspirin to children and teens. Reason: Always increases risk of bleeding.

Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.




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