Head Injuries in Children: Problems to Watch For - Topic Overview
What to watch for after a head injury
A minor head injury is sometimes hard to distinguish from a more serious injury to the brain even when there is no visible bleeding or injury on the outside of the skull.
Check for the following changes immediately after a head injury:
- A significant change in the child's level of consciousness
- Confusion or not acting normal, such as extreme fussiness or crying that cannot be comforted
- Abnormally deep sleep, trouble waking up, or extreme sleepiness
- Symptoms that affect one side of the body more than the other side, such as weakness or problems moving an arm or leg
- Loss of vision
A decrease in level of consciousness following a head injury may signal a life-threatening problem caused by bleeding, injury, or swelling within or around the brain. A child's level of consciousness can deteriorate suddenly or gradually. This change can be permanent or temporary.
If a parent or caregiver can't be sure that a child was conscious following a head injury, a visit to a doctor is needed for further evaluation.