Minor Head Injury in Children
Children do hit their heads quite often, and it is difficult to know whether they are severe or not. Throughout their development, children encounter blows to the head and therefore, seeking the doctor’s attention is not necessary (Semrud-Clikeman, 2001). A minor head injury refers to any knock particularly to the head that creates lumps, bruises, cut among other symptoms and it does not require any surgical treatment. Minor head injury is one of the most common causes of death and permanent disability among children during their childhood (Gausche-Hill, et al., 2007). American Academy of Pediatrics claims that there is no physical evidence of any fracture in the skull among children with minor head injuries (Gausche-Hill, et al., 2007). Minor head injury symptoms in children include loss of consciousness lasting for less an hour (Semrud-Clikeman, 2001). Moreover, bruise on the head, dizziness, irritability, and headaches among others are also common symptoms of minor head injury (Gausche-Hill, et al., 2007). Many head injuries are less serious and causes just a bruise and for this reason, it is very rare for head injuries to interfere with the brain. However, in some situations, a knock to the head may damage the brain or the blood vessel next to the brain which can be very critical and can even lead to loss of life. This paper provides a discussion on minor head injuries in children explaining its causes, effects, possible treatments and control and prevention.
Arguably, head injury symptoms are very useful in determining how serious the injury is. Usually, the minor head injury symptoms are not persistent and short lived. Nausea and bruise on the head as well as dizziness are some of the most common symptoms of minor head injury. Mild head injuries in children come with headaches withdrawal among others (Semrud-Clikeman, 2001). In addition, cognitive symptoms of minor head injuries include reduced concentration and memory loss (Thiessen and Woolridge, 2006), change in heating habits, interest loss in favorite toys or games, inability to pay attention and persistent crying are also very common with children with minor head injuries. Parents should take the child to the doctor when these symptoms of minor head injuries worsen. In overall, the causes of head injuries include falls, road traffic accidents as well as assaults (Thiessen and Woolridge, 2006) and the pain can be reduced by taking acetaminophen. Some of these behavioral changes such as attention deficit posses a lot of difficulty both in school and at home (Semrud-Clikeman, 2001). Globally, minor head injuries are very common among children and it leads to memory loss, prolonged headaches, or even concussion. A minor head injury particularly headaches can be managed by taking painkillers like paracetamol. More so, it is advisable to monitor children who have this form of injury to ensure that they have enough rest and shun away from playing contact sports. Rarely, children with minor head injuries go through neurosurgery, that is, very few children with minor head injuries require surgery intervention (Gausche-Hill, et al., 2007).
Almost half of those suffering from head injuries worldwide are children because they have energy and are very active. Blowing or hitting the head is the major cause of minor head injury. Moreover, other common causes of minor head injuries include assaults, road traffic as well cycling accidents, home accidents or falls from windows, stairs, and playground equipment among others. Various studies have pointed out falls as the most common cause of head injuries (Thiessen and Woolridge, 2006). Children may fall from adult arms, beds, tables and stairs among others (Thiessen and Woolridge, 2006). Falling down or into rough object causes damage and motor vehicle crashes also lead to both head and brain injuries. Therefore, falling from bed, stairs, ladders or slipping in the bath are the most common causes of minor head injuries in children.
Secondly, minor head injuries among children and young adults result from sport related injuries, and this contributes to minor head injuries among children. Arguably, head injuries result from sport injuries such as soccer, boxing, football, skateboarding, and hockey among others. More so, most head injuries result from violence including child abuse. Child abuse is also one of the causes of minor head injuries in children especially when the caretaker hits the child mercilessly. In addition, violent shaking of children may cause head injuries and brain damages. Moreover, infant walkers are also a threat to children safety (Thiessen and Woolridge, 2006) because lack of close supervision especially when these children are playing leads to unnecessary injuries including minor head injuries. Furthermore, road related accidents including cars, motorcycle and bicycle collisions contribute greatly contribute to minor head injuries. However, studies reveal that most children with minor head injuries have behavioral problems eve before these injuries occur (Semrud-Clikeman, 2001).
Treatment of head injuries depends on the type of injury. Normally, most children having minor head injuries do recovery fully (Thiessen and Woolridge, 2006). This is possible because most head knock leads to bruising and a little pain that are short-lived. There is no treatment required for minor brain injuries other than getting enough rest and taking pain killers to treat a headache, that is, treatment of minor head injuries only requires observation and symptom control. In addition, it is necessary to use or apply ice on the injured area to minimize the swelling and it is also useful in preventing any damage to the tissue, and also using a clean garment to press on the injured area for a few minutes so as to stop bleeding. Minor head injuries do not require a person to go the hospital for any check-up. Therefore, it is advisable to give children painkillers like paracetamol when they feel some headache but never give them any aspirin especially those children below the age of 16. Moreover, acetaminophen can also be used to reduce pain.
Furthermore, parents should not to let their children to be too excited, stop them from participating in some sport activities, and ensure that their children do not participate in rough plays for some time. Children with minor head injuries need to be monitored closely to note any persistent or any new symptoms. Accordingly, parents should take their children to the doctor in any nearby hospital when the headache worsens, unstable when walking, unusually sleepy, unconscious, have a seizure, develop a blurred vision, and cry continuously. It is also advisable to follow the doctor’s orders especially when the child goes back to school. More so, children should stop participating in certain physical and cognitive activities until the various symptoms of this injury disappears and resuming normal activities, games or plays should be gradual.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to predict or even avoid a head injury especially among children because of some accidents are unpredictable, therefore, prevention is the most effective way to treat any head injury. However, there are some ways to prevent or reduce exposure to head injuries like minimizing certain hazards at home which may trigger a fall, put on a safety helmet especially when cycling and some sport activities. First and foremost, children with minor head injuries should be under strict parental observation especially within the first 24 hours after the injury (Gausche-Hill, et al., 2007). Children who are cyclists should wear a safety helmet in order to protect their head and in some countries, putting on a safety helmet while riding a bicycle or a motorcycle is a legal requirement as a way of reducing risk of minor head injuries. Moreover, helmet legislation is one of the most effective strategies that have helped in reducing the risk of having minor head injuries among children and adults (Thiessen and Woolridge, 2006). All in all, it is advisable to wear appropriate head protection when cycling, playing contact sports, skating or even riding horse.
Accordingly, the use of seatbelts is very useful in preventing head injury especially during vehicle crash on the roads. Children should relax at the back seat of the car. They should occupy in the child safety seats that fit them appropriately to protect them from any type of injury. In addition, ensuring home safety is necessary to assist in preventing home accidents. Homes should not be exposed to any fall by ensuring that everything is in place. All the stairs should be kept tidy. Housekeepers should ensure that there is nothing that can make the floor slippery by cleaning all the spillages. More so, they should keep all the rugs properly to reduce the risk of falling. Handrails should be constructed in bathrooms so as to avoid unnecessary falls.
Moreover, all the windows especially in children’s bedrooms should be closed with all the movable furniture kept away to prevent them from climbing and falling, and also construct safety gates at the top of stairs and window guides to prevent falls. Children should also put on necessary safety requirement during sport activities. They have to be courteous not to play any contact sport after suffering a minor head injury. Accordingly, children should use the most appropriate protective equipment and be sure to maintain it properly. In addition, they should use playgrounds with shock absorbing materials to control or avoid falls. Furthermore, children with minor head injuries should have enough rest, and the parents or guardians should try wake up their children at night and ask them certain questions to determine whether they are alert or not. Most importantly, children should not be allowed to play on balconies or other risky places. However, parents or guardians should take their children to see the doctors when the child’s condition is deteriorating (Gausche-Hill, et al., 2007).
Children exposed to head injuries may encounter serious problems such as excessive bleeding or even blood clot in the brain. More so, a minor head injury leads to headache, vomiting in some cases, drowsiness among others. Furthermore, continues exposure to head injuries threatens children’s lives and may also result to poor coordination and lack of concentration and this may in turn affect their performance. Moreover, those children having difficulty in processing and retaining information leads to low performance in school and general activities (Semrud-Clikeman, 2001). In addition, bleeding and blood clots due to minor head injuries may interfere with effective supply of oxygen to the brain resulting to further damages. Furthermore, studies reveal that there is a relationship between minor head injury and hyperactivity among children (Semrud-Clikeman, 2001).
In a nutshell, minor head injuries are very common among children globally because children do bump their heads every now and then ant it can simply be defined as any knock to the head causing lumps, bruises or even cuts. Fortunately, minor head injuries are mild and less serious as they only cause bruises or pain which is short lived. These injuries rarely cause damage to the brain and head injury symptoms helps in determining how serious the injury is, for instance, bruise, lumps, nausea among others are the some of the most common symptoms of minor head injuries. Minor head injuries result from falls, road traffic accidents and assaults. The pain from these minor injuries can be treated by taking some painkillers such as acetaminophen. Children may fall from bed, bathrooms or stairs among other places. Road traffic accidents especially by cyclists or motorcyclists are also common cause of minor head injuries. Moreover, violence such as child abuse and other forms of violence increases the risk of head injuries. The causes of minor head injuries can be prevented by first, ensuring that the stairs and the entire floor are tidy and not slippery. The bathrooms should have handrails and all the rugs should be placed appropriately. Children should also not be allowed to play in balconies or other risky places where they might fall. Accordingly, wearing helmets when cycling or participating other sport activities is very important in preventing unnecessary head injuries. Continuous head injuries can be very critical and can cause death in some cases. Minor head injuries need no treatment because they are not serious injuries but prevention is the most effective way to avoid these injuries. Moreover, studies reveal that children with minor head injuries do recovery completely especially through close monitoring, and necessary prevention strategies followed.
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Semrud-Clikeman, M. (2001). Traumatic brain injury in children and adolescents: Assessment and intervention. New York: Guilford Press.
Thiessen Mary, and Woolridge Dale. (2006). Pediatric Minor Closed Head Injury. Pediatr Clinic of North America 53: 1 – 26.