What to Do if Your Child Has a Head Injury


September 24, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:

Parents know it’s far from uncommon for kids to bump or bang their heads. But how do you know when a head injury is serious enough to require medical help or when it should be managed at home?

When to Provide Care at Home

For minor head injuries, you might notice:

  • Your child was temporarily agitated or confused right away but is now alert
  • Your child might have vomited, but just once
  • Your child might have minor bruises or cuts on their head
  • Your child is acting, speaking and moving normally

“In these cases, continue observing your child at home, but if you’re worried about him or her, you should always call your doctor to get a second opinion,” says pediatric physiatrist Nicole Marcantuono, M.D.

When to Seek Care Immediately

“If your child has hit their head and experiences any severe symptoms of a head injury, you should seek medical care right away. That might include calling 911 for an ambulance,” says pediatric neurosurgeon Catherine Mazzola, M.D.

Severe symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dazed state
  • Confusion, memory loss or loss of orientation
  • Bleeding that is difficult to stop
  • Vomiting more than once
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Visual disturbance
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Slurred speech

“A child can develop symptoms over several days following an injury to their head,” says Dr. Marcantuono. “So it’s important to continue watching for new ones. But the good news is most children recover well after mild injuries. If your child has any symptoms following an injury to his or her head, evaluation by a medical provider is necessary.”

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



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