internal and involve the skull, brain, or blood vessels
An injury can cause a concussion, contusion, fracture, or bleeding:
is a type of mild traumatic brain injury. It happens when a blow to the head or another
injury moves the head back and forth with a lot of force. This causes chemical changes
in the brain and sometimes damages brain cells.
A contusion (bruise) happens when a blow to the head injures
the skin and the soft tissue under it. Blood from small blood vessels leaks, causing
red or purple marks on the skin. Contusions often happen on the scalp or forehead.
More serious head injuries can cause a brain contusion.
A skull fracture is a break
in the skull bone. Skull fractures can happen in different parts of the skull.
Bleeding can happen on and under the scalp and in or around the
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Head Injury?
A child with a head injury might:
Have a swollen scalp: This is common because the scalp has many
small blood vessels that can leak.
Have a headache:
About half of children with a head injury get a headache.
Lose consciousness (pass out): This isn't common.
or twice: This happens in some children after a head injury.
How Are Head Injuries Diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose head injuries by asking questions about how the injury happened
and doing a careful exam of the head. They'll also check to see how the nerves are
Most children with a mild brain injury don't need medical tests. Doctors often
do a CAT scan of the head
if the injury is more serious.
Call your health care provider right away if your child had a head injury and:
is an infant
lost consciousness, even for a moment
has any of these symptoms:
won't stop crying
complains of head and neck pain (younger children who aren't talking yet may be
vomits more than one time
won't awaken easily
becomes hard to comfort
isn't walking or talking normally
If your child is not an infant, has not lost consciousness, and is alert and behaving
normally after the fall or blow:
Put an ice pack or instant cold pack on the injured area for 20 minutes every
3–4 hours. If you use ice, always wrap it in a washcloth or sock. Ice placed
right on bare skin can injure it.
Watch your child carefully for the next 24 hours. If the injury happens close
to bedtime or naptime and your child falls asleep soon afterward, check in a few times
while they sleep.
If your child's skin color and breathing are normal, and you don't
sense a problem, let your child sleep unless the doctor tells you otherwise. There's
no need to keep a child awake after a head injury.
Trust your instincts. If you think your child doesn't look or
seem right, partly awaken your child by sitting them up. They should fuss a bit and
attempt to resettle. If your child still seems very drowsy, try to awaken them fully.
If you can't wake your child, call your health care provider or 911
for an ambulance.
What Should I Do if a Child Is Unconscious After a Head Injury?
Don't move the child in case there is a neck or spine injury.
Call for help. If you have a phone with you, call 911.
If the child is vomiting or having a seizure,
turn them onto their side while trying to keep the head and neck straight. This will
help prevent choking and
protect the neck and spine.
Can Head Injuries Be Prevented?
It's impossible to protect kids from every injury. But you can help prevent head
blows. Most important, childproof
your home to prevent household accidents.
Always wear a bike helmet
that fits well and is approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for