Childhood Concussions: Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention Methods

boy with head injury

While the majority of concussions occur from sporting injuries, some happen from car and biking accidents and even small falls.

When most people hear the word concussion, they think of a person being knocked unconscious. While that certainly is a possibility, it is not always the case. Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, can happen even if the person remains awake.

Regardless, it is vital to treat these injuries promptly, as they alter the way the brain functions.

If you suspect your child may have a concussion, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of a Mild Concussion

  • Tiring easily or extreme sleepiness; change in eating patterns
  • Pronounced headache
  • Confusion, or change in alertness
  • Vomiting and/or seizures
  • Sudden crankiness or lack of interest in favorite things
  • Unsteadiness, or a lack of coordination

MORE:  Your Child’s Headaches: Symptoms, Triggers, & 4 Tips to Help! }

The brain is surrounded by a gelatin-like substance called cerebrospinal fluid and, when injured, it may slide forcefully against the inner wall of the skull, sometimes resulting in bleeding in/or around the brain. 

When someone receives a concussion, the brain has a temporary loss of function and, although most heal within one to two weeks, more severe concussions can have lasting effects. Concussions are caused by blows to the head or upper body and can also be caused by “shaken baby syndrome.” The severity of the concussion is determined by how long the symptoms last, so one cannot tell severity until they have healed.

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Symptoms of a Severe Concussion (Seek Emergency Care Immediately)

  • Continued vomiting and headache
  • Changes in speech, vision, breathing, or hearing
  • Lasting dizziness or loss of consciousness
  • Numbness or discharge in nose/ears
  • Large bumps or bruises in areas other than the forehead; especially in children younger than 12 months

Only your doctor can determine whether or not your child has a concussion, but it is recommended to be checked out within one to two days of any head injury. Before going to the doctor, make a list of the symptoms – and their duration – and have your child “rest her brain.”

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Do not allow your child to do any physically or mentally stressful activities. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be given as needed, but avoid aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Check on your child every few hours, and awaken him periodically to be sure he can be normally awoken.

Your doctor may perform various tests including neurological exams that focus on memory, coordination, hearing, vision, and reflex abilities. They may also order imaging tests, such as a standard CT scan. Once a diagnosis has been established, follow the doctor’s orders precisely.

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Concussion Prevention

It is more likely that your child will develop complications if he or she experiences a second concussion. The risk doubles within the first five years following the initial concussion and may result in rapid brain swelling if it is before the first concussion has completely healed.  Severe complications, such as epilepsy, can impair cognitive development and limit functional abilities; therefore, it is advised to take the following precautions to avoid second-impact syndrome:

  • Always wear appropriate safety gear that fits correctly and is properly maintained.
  • Wear a seat belt during any vehicle use.
  • Allow children to only participate in age-appropriate games.
  • Use extreme caution when diving into water.
  • Wear sensible shoes to avoid falling.
  • “Baby-proof” your home with adequate lighting, padding around hard surfaces, and window guards and gates to prevent falls.

{ MORE:  Bumps and Bruises }

 

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Childhood Concussions: Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention Methods

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7 comments

  1. mommy nhoj says:

    I hope we won’t encounter this because my daughter loves to climb on furniture whenever she’s out of her playpen

  2. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the info. My son climbs on the furniture all the time and that helps if he falls off.

  3. liz says:

    very important information to know, tnx so much 🙂

  4. Timothy says:

    keep the books for the next kid

  5. andrea says:

    This is good to know I have a 17mth old who started walking at 10mths yet he seems to have left feet. He trip and falls lot and I’m always worried when he hits his head.

  6. Maria says:

    This is very good information to share. About two weeks ago my son fell and I had to rush him to the hospital and he had a minor concussion. He threw up about five times and was starting to get tired. I’m so very thankful that I made it to the hospital when I did because they ended up doing a cat scan and monitoring him. I was very scared that he would have to stay overnight. He was released later that day and I was told that he didn’t have any bleeding or bruising to his brain.

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