As any parent knows, children have an expert tendency to sustain bumps and scrapes. Most of the time, they bounce back quite happily with nothing more than a band aid and a kiss from Mommy. However, sometimes they may sustain more concerning injuries. Bumps on the head can be particularly worrying for parents – especially as most people are aware that serious brain problems resulting from a bash on the head may not have many physical signs. Here, therefore, is a quick guide to head injuries in children. It may help to set your mind at rest in less serious cases, and to know when to seek help if needed!
Children are amazingly resilient – and far better at recovering from head injuries than their parents would be! The vast majority of head injuries sustained by children can be dealt with at home. However, they can be startling for parents. If the child sustains cuts to the scalp, the injury can seem a lot, lot worse than it actually is. This is because, due to its structure, the scalp bleeds profusely from even quite superficial wounds. Gashes in children heal quickly, but it’s just as well to try to stop the blood flow with bandages and compresses nonetheless. If blood flow is extremely heavy and will not stop, then a trip to the ER may be in order, but usually in these cases the main issue is to calm the child (who will doubtless be distressed by the blood in their hair!), and to reassure yourself that scalp cuts usually heal up nicely with no further complications. If the cut was sustained through an impact to the head, then you should be paying more attention to potential effects upon the inside rather than the outside of the head.
Concussion is a minor brain injury which occurs when the skull is knocked and the brain gets a bit of a bump. Concussion varies in severity, and some blows to the head may be more serious than others, so if your child shows any signs of concussion it may be just as well to get them to a doctor just in case. Symptoms of concussion include loss of consciousness (however brief), temporarily disturbed vision, memory loss, headache, drowsiness, nausea, abrupt change in mood, slurred speech, altered comprehension, ringing in the ears and more. However, only one or two of these symptoms may be present depending on the location of and circumstances surrounding the blow to the head. Try to keep your child under close supervision following any bump to the head, and don’t let them take a nap (you can monitor any changes in behavior much more effectively if they’re awake). Remember that children are different to adults, so signs like altered speech patterns which would be a warning sign in adults might simply be play for your child. You know best what is and what is not normal for your child, so you are the one best placed to determine whether or not they need medical attention. Should you notice any signs of impaired consciousness, take them to a doctor who will be able to advise you on the best way in which to proceed. Don’t worry, the majority of concussions pass on their own with minimal treatment, but your child may need some TLC and supervision for 24-48 hours!
When To Call An Ambulance
It should be reasonably obvious when a head injury needs immediate, emergency attention. However, some head injuries can hide serious consequences. If your child begins bleeding or leaking cerebrospinal fluid (a clear liquid) from their ears and/or nose, then chances are they’ve got pressure on their brain which will benefit from medical supervision while it passes. Other pressing signs that your child could benefit from immediate hospital attention include prolonged (more than a minute) unconsciousness following the injury, seizures, persistent vomiting, trouble staying awake, and trouble understanding what’s going on around them. Your child may also have pre-existing risk factors which make it best to seek emergency treatment in the case of a head injury. These include haemophilia, thrombophilia (a disease which makes one prone to blood clotting), or previous brain injuries. In such cases, it is always better to be safe than sorry!
~ Article courtesy of Helen Greaves
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