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What to do if your child suffers head trauma

Young children are fearless when exploring, and particularly prone to suffering blows to the head

Head injuries to children should always be taken seriously and it is better for parents and caregivers to err on the side of caution.

This advice comes from experts in the health sector, who say young children are particularly prone to head trauma as they are growing, developing and investigating the world around them.

‘Sometimes it can be difficult for parents to judge when to seek medical attention when a child has suffered a blow to the head, especially in younger children,’ said Dr Bianca Visser, an emergency medical practitioner at the emergency department of Netcare Unitas Hospital.

According to Visser, the theory that children should only be taken to a doctor if they lose consciousness after suffering a head trauma is a common misconception.

‘Children can have a severe concussion without losing consciousness.

‘While some people will have obvious symptoms after a blow to the head, such as passing out or being unable to recollect what happened just before the injury, others may not display such symptoms.

‘Symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe and can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months.’

As well as assessing the child’s head trauma, a medical practitioner will also assess the child’s neck and handle any superficial injuries that may require stitching.

Concussion symptoms include not thinking clearly, being physically ill, headaches, easily angered, not sleeping enough or sleeping too much.

Young children may display the same symptoms as older children and adults, but they may also cry more than usual, display behavioural changes, lose new skills like toilet training, or have trouble walking.

‘Whether these symptoms are apparent or not, babies younger than six months who suffer head trauma should always be assessed by a medical practitioner.’


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