Head injuries fall into two categories:
Fortunately, most childhood falls or blows to the head result in injury to the scalp only, which is usually more frightening than threatening. An internal head injury could have more serious implications because it may result in bleeding or bruising of the brain.
The scalp is rich with blood vessels, so even a minor cut there can bleed profusely. The "goose egg" or swelling that may appear after a head blow is the result of the scalp's veins leaking fluid or blood into (and under) the scalp. It may take days or even a week to disappear.
What to look for and what to do:
The brain is cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid, but a severe blow to the head may knock the brain into the side of the skull or tear blood vessels. Some internal head injuries — complications of a fractured skull, torn blood vessels, or damage to the brain itself — can be serious and possibly life threatening.
Different levels of injury require different levels of concern. It can be difficult to determine the level of injury, so it's always wise to discuss a head injury with your doctor.
Call 911 if your child shows any of these symptoms after a head injury:
Concussions are also a type of internal head injury. A concussion is the temporary loss of normal brain function due to an injury. Repeated concussions can result in permanent injury to the brain. However, it's possible to get a concussion that's mild and doesn't result in long-term damage.
One of the most common reasons kids get concussions is through sports, so make sure yours wear appropriate protective gear and don't let them continue to play if they've had a head injury.
If your child sustains an injury to the head, watch for these signs of a possible concussion:
If you suspect a concussion, call your doctor for further instructions.
It's impossible to prevent kids from ever being injured, but there are ways to help prevent head blows.
Make sure that:
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: January 2011
|National SAFE KIDS Campaign The National SAFE KIDS Campaign offers information about car seats, crib safety, fact sheets, and links to other health- and safety-oriented sites.|
|National Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.|
|National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) The website of NCIPC contains a variety of injury prevention information.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
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