From Bumps to Brain Injuries

It’s no secret that most children lead rough-and-tumble lives. You don’t learn to walk without falling first. Every kid bumps his or her head at some point and cries, and parents come running.

But how do those parents know whether it’s just a minor bump — a part of growing up — or something more serious? Serious brain injuries do not always seem like much when they occur.

Researchers have come up with a set of guidelines for determining this after a large study in 2009. Every parent should become familiar with them.

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In addition to physical exams, one of the most useful diagnostic tools is a patient’s description of pain. In children too young to talk, this is not possible. A San Diego pediatric emergency doctor recently wrote in a column that the following are warning signs of a potentially serious head injury in a child under 2 years old:

  • Falls from more than 2 feet high
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Altered behavior
  • A large bump that develops anywhere on the head but the forehead

For children over 2, the following are causes for concern that warrant medical attention:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Change in behavior
  • Severe headache
  • Falls from a “significant” height

If any child experiences seizures of bleeding from the ears, a parent needs to bring them to a doctor or emergency room immediately, the doctor wrote.

What to Expect

If you bring your child to the hospital, they may conduct a CT scan to examine the skull and the brain. The painless exam can quickly detect life-threatening injuries that are not visible otherwise.

If the CT scan shows no problems, your child will likely be sent home. The doctor will probably ask you to keep a close eye on him or her for the next day or so to make sure no other symptoms develop.

If your child has suffered a concussion — which occurs when the brain rattles around excessively inside the skull — the doctor will order rest. There is no quick cure for a concussion, nor can it be detected in a test.

About Us

The Brain Injury Law Center provides legal assistance to the victims of serious brain injuries. We want to help keep out kids safe. That’s why we offer free bicycle helmets to underprivileged children here in Virginia and bring you blogs like this one.

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