Head Injuries in Children Need to Be Taken Seriously


When children take a tumble or get hit hard in a soccer game, it’s second nature to brush them off, give them a kiss on the head, and send them back on their way. But when it comes to head injuries, neglecting to take action could have serious outcomes. Whether it’s an auto accident or a slip-and-fall, head injuries in children need to be taken seriously and closely monitored.

“Head injuries” is a broad term that encompasses everything from a scratch to a traumatic brain injury. They can happen on the baseball diamond or playground, in your back yard, or in heavy traffic. Often, what appears to be a minor incident could actually result in a serious injury, which is why knowing more about head injuries in children is so important.

Brain injuries: The facts

Boston Children’s Hospital points out that head injuries and brain injuries are two separate matters. But when a child has a head injury, there is always the risk of the brain being harmed, which is why it’s crucial to call the doctor if your child hurts his or her head. If there is blood, swelling, or a loss of consciousness, call 911.

  • Head injuries are more common in boys.
  • They often happen to children and adolescents.
  • Hospitals see more head injuries during the spring, summer, and on weekends, when children are most likely to be outside.

The Brain Injury Association of America points out the most serious and potentially deadly form of head injury is called “traumatic brain injury” or TBI. This is defined as a change in brain function or evidence of damage caused by an external force.

They say falls account for 35% of TBI, auto accidents account for 17%, and being struck by something accounts for 16%. Though most of these injuries are classified as “mild”, even a minor TBI can have lasting effects.

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disabilities in children across the nation. Some 564,000 children are seen in emergency rooms every year and 62,000 are hospitalized for head injuries.

Symptoms of a serious head injury

Your child may come to you in tears after falling from playground equipment. But what appears to be a simple bump on the head could be a sign of a more serious injury. Because head injuries can quickly develop into life-or-death situations, it’s important to monitor your child closely after a head injury.

A concussion, one of the most common head injuries, is a temporary change in mental function without permanent damage to the brain’s structure. A concussion could cause your child to lose consciousness, become confused, or forget what caused the head injury. Common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Loss of consciousness

Though concussions are considered a minor brain injury, they too need to be checked out by a doctor.

Obviously, the more serious a brain injury is, the more pronounced the symptoms will be. Loss of consciousness is perhaps one of the most common signs of a serious brain injury. But other symptoms of a severe head injury can include:

  • Bleeding from the nose or ears
  • Clear fluid draining from the nose or ears
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Prolonged unconsciousness
  • Debilitating pain

What to do when your child suffers a head injury

When children suffer a head injury, it’s important to monitor them closely. If they exhibit any symptoms, seek medical attention. If they lose consciousness, are in severe pain, suffer a seizure, or are vomiting, call 911 or take them to an emergency room.

Time is of the essence after a head injury. Mitigating the effects of a serious injury begins with acting quickly and getting immediate medical care.