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 medical attention.

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.

Home Management of a Mild Head Injury


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