Head Injuries in Children
Head injuries are of course quite common in children. Most will hit their head at some time or other. Judging when to seek help and when simply to watch can be tricky. If you are ever unsure, call for the ambulance and left the doctors decide.
When to suspect head injuries in children
- Fall from a height, eg: from play equipment
- Any hit to the head, especially if they are knocked out
- Sporting injuries
- Any diving injury
- Any motor vehicle collision
- Any injury causing the child’s helmet to be broken
2 Types of Head Injury
Concussion – very common in children. The brain is shaken inside the skull and can be bruised. The child might, or might not, lose consciousness. They’ll surely have a headache, which will get better in time. They might also have nausea or vomiting, dizziness, slight visual disturbance, all of which will improve with time. They may forget what happened, or repeatedly ask about it. This is also normal.
Compression – much less common and much more serious. Like the name says, there is pressure inside the skull because the injured brain starts to swell. They may be unconscious when you find them, or quickly become so. There may be a severe headache which doesn’t improve, nausea and vomiting which don’t improve, changes of the pupils in the eyes, weakness or paralysis, noticeable behaviour changes. Things seem worse and keep getting worse.
All people with compression must go to advanced medical care as soon as possible. Call for help now!
For concussion – if they remain unconscious for 3 minutes or more, get the ambulance, otherwise monitor carefully. The symptoms should improve. A responsible adult should watch over them for 72 hrs to check for any sign of compression.
Remember the best first aider is the one who does the least first aid! So avoid doing any by preventing head injuries in children as far as you can:
- Safety gates on the stairs, and keep stairways clear of toys & clutter
- Encourage ‘clean up time’ after playing to prevent trip hazards
- Latch & secure all windows, doors, balconies, etc.
- Make sure all shelving is secured to the wall, no heavy objects are stored where they may fall on a child.
- Use appropriate car seats, helmets and other safety equipment at all appropriate times
- Keep footwear safe and well fastened
- Never leave a child on a high changing table, cot, crib, bed or other surface.
To help supplement your in-class learning on the ChildCare course, we have prepared a free download for you. The Head Injuries Crib Notes (a PDF file) can be freely given to anyone you think may need it!