Head Injuries In Children: When To Worry About It?

5 min read

By Dr. Chetan Ginigiri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

The children are very restless and very curious by nature. All parents, therefore, try all possible means to keep them in control, to make them responsible as well as for their safety. Even though parents wish their kids can have loads of fun, but they double-check the security aspects related to it. In the present times, play areas are gaining momentum, which has soft play zones, yet there are chances of children falling off and can have severe head injuries. For older children, it is important to teach them the value of being safe and encourage them to put on helmets whenever they are cycling or riding and to follow traffic rules. Head injury, even though it is the most common one, yet also has a different magnitude, while one baby or child after falling can have just a bump, the other can have a severe one as well. This is also the reason why the parents are not sure when to take the kid to a doctor.
In the following points, we shall, therefore, throw light on the steps to be taken if the child suffers through a head injury, the correct time to take medical action or call the doctor, correct posture of sleeping with a head injury, suffering from a concussion and the way the head injury can be prevented.

What To Watch for After Head Injuries?

All kids keep falling while they are playing, and head injury is something that almost all kids would have experienced. As a parent, the cause of worry should be if the child falls on the head, develops a goose egg that isn’t disappearing, and is spongy and wet, even after applying cold packs. In a condition where the child gets hit on the head, cries for a little while, but resumes playing or has a goose egg that might be hard or soft but disappears in few minutes, the parents need not worry at all.

When Should You Seek Immediate Medical Attention?

Kids, even though they are quite playful but have their own ways to let you know that something is not right, and they are not feeling good. Being parents, we just need to understand their indications and act. It is often seen that when kids are too sleepy, they either rub their eyes, become clingy or stubborn, or cry unnecessarily. If the kids are vomiting and losing appetite, feeling drowsy, getting unconscious, with low energy, suffering from a nerve-wracking headache, the parents should understand that it is a signal to let them to the hospital.

When Should You Call Your Paediatrician?

Most of the time, the child might not show any signs, yet he does not look like himself and looks dull, then it is the time to first call a pediatric than rush to an emergency. The pediatrician will investigate the situation and then decide what would be the best action that can be taken. He will make a decision on if the child can get better with some medication or he needs medical admission.
Given below is a small table that depicts the situation when to worry and when to take medical help when the child suffers from a head injury.

Take Instant Medical Attention Under These SymptomsDo Not Worry Much If These Signs Prevail
The child gets unconscious or drowsy.He is just shocked and scared but not unconscious.
There is a blurry vision, and eyes size is changing and not able to move the eyes in coordination.There is no problem with the eyes or eyesight.
The child is feeling weak and not ready to move, and if trying to walk is finding it tough.Resumes playing after a while and do not feel week and can do all activities normally.
Acute head painVery slight head pain on persistent questioning.
He has vomited more than twice and still feeling the same.Vomited once or 3-4 days after the injury has taken place.
Blood or fluid from nose and ears. noseShe is crying with fluid or mucus from the nose, which stops once crying stops.
Persistent bleeding from the scalp.A small wound that bleeds but stops after around 10 minutes.
The child gets irritated, impatient, and keeps crying for almost an hour.The child gets distracted and is composed, yet slightly clingy like when he has cold and fever. This is fine because kids do seek attention after they get hurt and want to be clingy.
The child does not seem to be himself but cannot figure out what is happening.The child wishes to play, talk, become naughty and resumes his original self.


Sleeping With A Paediatric Head Injury

A head injury can be mild, as well as severe. So, depending on the condition of the child, one can decide what the correct posture for him to sleep is. If the child is behaving normally, then he can sleep in any position, and one should try not to wake him up since that can lead to more irritation, so sleeping and resting is the best bet. In case the injury is severe, the pediatrician will himself offer guidelines that should be followed.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Suffered A Concussion?

As stated earlier, head injury is very common, but its magnitudes do alter. The simple head injury shows no strange signs, and one gets to know that the child got a slight big bruise, but he will be fine in some time. However, a severe brain injury could be a concussion that refers to a brain injury due to which the brain cannot function in a normal state for some time.
These occur due to head trauma or a head injury that could be due to a fall or even a hit on the head by a strong ball or an accident etc. They are threatening for the child as they cannot express their feelings, so parents must keep a watch on them. Their symptoms do not start right after the injury and can start appearing after a few hours or after the lapse of a few days.
The symptoms are common for all but for children a little more specific like;

  • Weepiness when trying to move the head
  • Irritation
  • Disturbed sleeping schedules
  • Head bruises
  • Nausea

Under the above-mentioned symptoms, always seek medical help as the treatment to this is only rest physically as well as mentally, and the recovery phase from this can even take months or even years depending on how acute the case is.
In case the child has had a concussion, he should rest amply and stay away from gadgets as watching them could mean overstimulation, and it is significant to avoid having another head injury as the consistent occurrence of concussions can lead to brain damage.

Preventing Head Injuries In Children

Even though the head injury is very common, but if the kids are taught about their safety and the severity or consequences of head injuries, the chances are that they might not fall for it. It is thus mandatory to teach them to put on helmets while cycling, to ride, etc. so that their head is saved in the event of a fall or an accident. For smaller babies, it is important to offer baby proofing the sharp edges and corners and ensure that the babies are supervised, especially when they seated at high chairs and similar furniture.
Thus, it can be said that parents always must at every step be a navigator to the children and ensure safety for them. So, they say,” a kid always remains a kid to the parent,” whether a baby or a grown-up, the parent’s guidance is always a lightning start for them. It doesn’t matter whether it is about teaching good or bad, traffic rules, responsibility vs. carelessness. So, let us keep guiding and navigating our children and make their life a smooth and safe one.

Dr. Chetan Ginigiri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.

Responses (1)

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Sanjeev c

Nov 04, 2020

Interesting and insightful


Sanjeev c

Nov 04, 2020

Interesting and insightful

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