Last week a friend of mine was at the park with her kids and was pushing her 3 year old on the swing when the little girl unexpectedly fell backwards off the swing. She hit her head on the playground surface. Her Mother held her and consoled her, and she was not bleeding, but she had bumped her head pretty hard. Since there was no blood and kids tend to be resilient, my friend opted to take the wait and see approach rather than rush to the ER.
About 30 minutes later her daughter started vomiting, and at that point there was no question that she was taking her daughter in that instant. As it turns out, the little girl suffered a concussion.
According to Dr. Gwenn of Pediatrics Now:
Head injury can cause external injuries to the scalp or skull as well as internal injuries to the brain such as bruises, bleeding, and concussions. Any internal brain injury can be serious but concussions are the most common and can be the least obvious. A concussion occurs when the brain is shaken causing a temporary disruption in how the different nerves talk to each other, similar to a power surge at home. Symptoms vary and often include seeing stars, being dazed, blurred vision, nausea and occasionally amnesia. With more serious concussions, headache, vomiting, balance problems and changing levels of consciousness may occur. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have a concussion without loosing consciousness and even minor head injury can cause concussions.
The little girl spent a few days in the hospital under careful watch from her doctors and while she is feeling good now, she has to go back for a follow up CT scan before she will get a clean bill of health.
Help prevent head injuries by requiring your children to wear helmets when riding bikes, scooters, and skates. Educate yourself and your child on head injury risks in the sports they play – and how to minimize the risk. If your child has had a head injury, do not rush a return to activity. Consult with your family doctor for guidance on when to return to activities.
For more information on head injuries in children, I recommend Dr. Gwenn’s post on head injuries at Pediatrics Now.