Head injuries are
common in childhood, especially during the early developmental
years. Most are not serious and result in no noticeable injury to
the head. More forceful blows to the head may result in an abrasion,
a deep cut or a lump on the scalp due to broken blood vessels under
the skin. Most attention, however, must be focused upon the child’s
mental and neurological state. The following guidelines will help in
assessment and treatment of a head injury.
1. Is the skin broken? Most bleeding is controllable with direct
pressure over the wound for 10 minutes. Wash small cuts or abrasions
with soap and water. Deep or gaping cuts may need suturing for
proper healing. (See Topic 15 sheet).
2. How did the injury happen? The greater the force behind the
injury, the greater the concern. An automobile accident, a long fall
(as from a roof), and an impact from a heavy object (as from a
baseball bat) are examples of significant force.
3. Was there any loss of consciousness? Either being “knocked out”
or having a seizure is indicative of loss of consciousness. Any loss
of consciousness, however brief, may signal a dangerous head injury
and requires immediate medical evaluation of the child.
4. Does the child have a headache of increasing intensity? Headaches
are common after a head injury, but generally improve fairly
rapidly. A headache that is becoming more severe requires immediate
5. Has the child vomited? One or two episodes of vomiting are common
immediately following a head injury. Any vomiting more than two
hours after the accident is reason for concern, especially if it is
associated with a headache.
6. How is the child acting? Confusion, disorientation, excessive
sleepiness, blurred or doubled vision, unsteady walk, weakness in
arms or legs, and difficulty speaking are indications deserving
immediate medical attention.
of a Mild Head Injury