What To Do When Your Child Gets a Nasty Bump On The Head

by | September 12, 2018

You son is running towards you, trips over the flat path, gets a nasty bump on the head pretty badly, and complains of feeling weird and dizzy. After a quick trip to the doctors, it’s diagnosed as concussion, and apart from some painkillers, the directions are to take it a little easier. 

All in all, it’s not as bad as you originally suspected, but what does ‘take it a little easier’ and concussion really mean?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidelines to help parents, coaches and doctors better answer questions like this. They set standards for children through age 18 to help doctors distinguish a mild brain injury from a possibly life-threatening condition, and specified strategies for recovery, according to the Cleveland Clinic. 

“Doctors should diagnose and manage pediatric brain injury based on the best evidence,” says Edward Benzel, MD, a Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon who helped write the CDC guidelines. “We reviewed the past 25 years of research to create the recommendations.”

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What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury from a bump on the head – depending on how severe the blow will depend on the seriousness of the diagnoses. Bruised nerves will result in a temporary loss of normal brain function. 

Headaches, tiredness and vision problems are all side effects of concussion, and the symptoms may last a few hours to a few weeks. 

bump on the head

Not Every Bump On The Head Is Created Equal

The CDC recommends the guidelines below for a child diagnosed, before resuming regular activities. 

  • Complete rest is OK, but for the first two or three days only.
  • Avoid aspirin for pain relief. Instead, ask your doctor if another over-the-counter medication — such as acetaminophen — can be taken.
  • Start back to school (for partial days and with extra breaks if necessary) and resume light activities other than sports.
  • Gradually become more active to resume a normal schedule.
  • If symptoms get worse or problems that had resolved come back, cut back again.

Red flags

During recovery, be aware of signs of a serious brain injury after a bump on the head. Call 911 if any of the following appear:

  • Persistent, severe or worsening headache.
  • Significant nausea or repeated vomiting.
  • Unusual behavior, such as increasing confusion, restlessness or agitation.
  • Drowsiness or inability to wake up.
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness or poor coordination.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • Loss of consciousness.
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