When our kids are growing up we can almost expect them to get bumps, bruises, and experience falls.  What can be the most scary though are those head bumps, or falls where they land mostly on the back of their head.  It is scary for both parent and child.  It can be hard to distinguish when it is time to get help and when you can leave your child be.  When you see your child fall, try to keep yourself calm.  More times than not a head injury is minor and won’t need medical attention.

Head trauma can happen in many different ways to a child.  Slipping in the tub, falling backwards, tripping, falling downstairs, climbing out of cribs or other furniture, or falling at the playground.  Head trauma can also happen from falling off a changing table, caregiver dropping a child, or abuse.  The height of a fall can cause more serious injury to your child.  Falling over the railing of their crib could cause more serious injuries then them just tripping on the playground.  

 

Mild, Moderate or Severe

There are different types of head injuries as well.  There are mild, moderate, and severe.  Good news is most head injuries that kids suffer from are usually mild.  There is only about 2% of head injuries in children that are moderate, and then about 1% that are severe and cause brain damage. 

  • Different types of head injuries your child could suffer from are one a contusion.  This is a bruise that appears on the head. 
  • A scalp wound is a cut in the skin on the scalp. 
  • A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that is when the head hits with excessive force causing the brain to move around. 
  • A skull fracture is when there is a break in the skull bone. 
  • Head bleeding can be on or under the scalp, brain tissue, or layers surrounding the brain.  

 

Emergency Room Diagnosis

If your child needs to go to the emergency room for their head trauma, they will usually get a CT done of their head.  This will help determine the severity and the type of head injury that your child is suffering from.  In most cases a CT will be satisfactory in diagnosing any injury.  

 

Treatment

Most of the time treatment for a pediatric head injury is just a little extra love and care, but besides that it will heal up on its own.  If there is a large cut that won’t stop bleeding, stitches may be needed to securely close the wound and stop infection. 

If your child complains of a headache you can give them appropriate dosage of Tylenol or pain relievers.  Ice can also be applied to any swelling.  Lots of rest and recovery will be given to your little one if they suffer from a head injury. 

 

Signs You Need Professional Care

After the fall make sure you watch your child for the first two hours afterwards closely.  You are looking for changes in their behavior to see if the fall is more serious.  Don’t expect your child to have a big crash and immediately go back to normal.  They may be flat for a bit and need to relax and recover.  Some children may bounce back as fast as 15 minutes, while it may take others up to an hour to be back to their normal self.  If after an hour they aren’t their normal, you should call a doctor.  

Signs of a serious traumatic brain injury are:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding from laceration
  • Dent in the skull
  • Bulging soft spot on the skull
  • Excessive bruising or swelling
  • Vomiting more than once
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Difficulty staying alert
  • Pupils different sizes
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Not responding to voice or touch
  • Blood or fluid drainage from nose and ears
  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Refusing to eat
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems

If you notice any of these in your child after a head trauma you need to call a doctor immediately.  

If your child seems to be fine after a head injury make sure to keep an eye on them for a few days.  Some head traumas can cause delayed side effects.  If your doctor has cleared your child to sleep then allow them to sleep but keep an eye on them.  As long as their breathing and skin color look ok, then they should be fine to get some good shut eye. 

If your child’s fall happens close to bedtime or naptime you may want to go in and wake them a few times to make sure they are easily woken.  If your child was behaving normally for at least 2 hours after the fall you can let them sleep normally without needing to wake them.  

Trust your gut as a parent.  If you think your child isn’t acting normal then go see a doctor.  It is better to be safe in the end.  Head injuries can be very scary and it can be easy to overthink and jump to the worst.  Your child will show signs of something being wrong if there is. 

Most head injuries in children need no medical intervention to heal on their own and your child will have no long lasting effects from it.  

 

 

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