Big Kid

How to Handle a Head Injury

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The other day I got a text from my youngest daughter’s preschool teacher. Now, if you have a … spirited child, you are probably all too familiar with the ice-water-in-your-veins feeling that a text like that invokes. But this wasn’t one of those texts. This one was informing me that my super graceful kid fell off the swing and hit her head. That’s a different kind of dread, you know? The dread you feel when your kid is hurt and you’re not there. Luckily she was fine! An ice pack and her lunch seemed to make it better. But I watched her like a hawk for the rest of the day. And of course, she talked about the goose egg on her head for daaaaaays. But head injuries are terrifying, especially with kids. Knowing how to handle it can help.

Thankfully, most head injuries are minor and don’t require medical attention. Kids bump their heads … a lot.

Somehow, kids manage to injure themselves doing the most mundane things. Getting out of bed. Climbing onto a chair. Getting off of a swing. Honestly, people should give new parents boxes of ice packs when they bring the baby home. They will use them eventually! But thankfully, most head injuries are pretty minor. If your kid ran into a wall or kicked themselves in the head (it happens), they may have some symptoms of a mild head injury. Those symptoms can include a mild headache, mild blurred vision, or even some dizziness. They might develop a nasty looking bump, which is scary. But some ice and pain meds can usually take care of it. Most importantly, make sure they rest, and keep a close eye on them.

Minor head injuries are common, but how do you know when that bump on the head is serious?

The really scary thing about head injuries is that your kid can seem totally fine at first, and then deteriorate rather rapidly. There are some pretty obvious signs that the head injury is serious and requires medical attention. If there is severe bleeding, blood or fluid coming from their nose or ears, or if they have a severe headache, get them to a doctor, stat. Other signs of a sever injury can include a loss of consciousness for more than a few seconds, vomiting, confusion or loss of balance when they stand, slurred speech, or seizures.

If your child sustains a severe head injury, make sure you know what to do.

Most importantly, don’t move them if at all possible, and wait for paramedics to arrive. If you need to move them to get them to a point of safety, enlist help so you can keep their head and neck still. If they are wearing a helmet, don’t remove it. Keep them still and lying down, with their head and shoulders slightly elevated. Apply pressure to any bleeding that might be happening, but if there’s a possibility of a skull fracture, don’t apply direct pressure to the wound. Watch for changes in breathing or alertness, as well.

You’re a parent, so guess what? There’s a very high probability that head injuries are in your future. Especially if your kids play sports! So be prepared for any head injury, minor or severe.

(Image: iStock/kdshutterman)