Head Injury in Kids

Head injuries can be serious and should never be ignored, even if the child isn’t complaining of specific symptoms. This article discusses what head injuries are, the different types, and the symptoms you should look out for. We will also discuss what you can do to prevent head injuries and reduce the severity.

At SportsSafe: Pediatric Concussion Clinic in Austin, Texas, our medical team evaluates kids who have sustained head injuries. If your child has a possible head injury, you should contact our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Child holding his head after a head injury in Austin, TX.

What is Classified as a Head Injury?

Any injury to the scalp, skull, or brain could be classified as a head injury. A mild head injury could be a bump on the head, whereas a serious head injury could be a concussion or a skull fracture. Serious head injuries need immediate medical care.

Types of Head Injuries

There are several different types of head injuries. Head injuries can be open or closed. An open injury is when the skull fractures or breaks in some way. A closed head injury does not have a  break in your skull.

The different types of head injuries include the following:

  • Cuts to the scalp
  • Bruises to the scalp
  • Concussions (a traumatic brain injury that affects the way the brain functions)
  • Bleeding in or around the brain
  • Broken skull bone or skull fractures

What Are the Possible Causes of Head Injuries

Head injuries in kids and teens can happen from:

  • Sports injuries
  • Falls
  • Bike accidents
  • Car accidents

Symptoms of a Head Injury

Symptoms of an injury depend on the extent of the head trauma. Your child may have the following symptoms:

  • Mild head injury: Your child may just have a little pain.
  • Serious head injury: Your child may pass out, feel dizzy, or vomit.
  • Severe brain injury: Your child may lose muscle strength and fine motor skills depending on the severity of brain damage. Their speech, hearing, and taste may also be affected.

How is a Head Injury Diagnosed?

A doctor will diagnose your child’s head injury by examining their head and asking how the injury took place. Most mild head injuries can be diagnosed without the use of medical tests. However, if there are signs of a serious injury, the doctor may request a CAT scan.

What Should I Do if My Child Hits His Head?

Regardless of the extent of your child’s head injury, you should stop the activity they are doing. You should seek medical help to examine the extent of the injury.

If your child has a head injury, even if it seems mild, they should stop the activity they are doing (including sports). Call your primary care provider, who will talk to you about the injury and symptoms and decide if your child needs medical care.

If your child has a severe head injury and shows these signs, call 911. This may include the following signs:

  • Suffering from a serious or heavily bleeding wound
  • Blood or clear fluid coming from the nose or ear
  • Having a seizure

If your child isn’t breathing, perform CPR if you know how. If there’s bleeding, apply firm pressure until it stops. Only move your child if they’re in danger; otherwise, leave them in place. If your child is wearing a helmet or sports equipment, don’t attempt to remove it.

Concussion symptoms could include any or all of these symptoms, and warrant evaluation: 

  • Brief Loss of consciousness
  • Unable to respond in typical fashion
  • Experiencing changes in vision
  • Exhibiting changes in behavior like agitation, confusion, or extreme sleepiness
  • Feeling dizzy or stumbling
  • Vomiting 
  • Experiencing weakness or numbness/tingling in both arms or legs
  • Having neck pain or tenderness

We recommend calling your primary care provider to determine if an in-office visit or ER visit is recommended.  

How to Prevent Head Injuries

While not all head injuries can be prevented, taking the following steps can reduce the chance or extent of the injury:

  • Make sure kids wear a helmet when doing activities like biking, skating, or playing sports. It won’t stop all injuries, but it can protect their head from a skull fracture and serious brain injury.
  • Use the right safety gear for each activity.
  • Always use the proper car seat or seatbelt when driving with kids.
  • Make your home safe for children.
  • Choose playgrounds with soft surfaces like mulch.
  • Talk to coaches about the rules they have to reduce head injury risks in sports your kids play.
  • Teach your kids to never hide a head injury. If it happens, they should immediately stop the activity and tell an adult.

Schedule an Appointment Today

If you would like a medical examination of your child’s head injury, give us a call. At the SportsSafe: Pediatric Concussion Clinic in Austin, TX, our providers can help your child get back to sports and physical activity safely. We can provide the following:

  • A neurologic exam and injury assessment tests (cognitive, balance, and eye tracking).
  • Communication with school personnel (athletic trainers, coaches, nurses, academic advisors) relaying academic and athletic accommodations during the recovery process.
  • Clearance to return to sports and activities (Texas law requires any athlete with a suspected concussion to be seen and cleared by a physician before returning to play)

Contact us to book your appointment today!