A high-school football player makes a big tackle. A middle-school soccer star heads the ball, then takes a dive. A toddler tumbles from the monkey bars.
In these situations and more, children can hit their heads hard enough to cause a concussion. Those who sustain these brain injuries need medical treatment to make sure they recover properly. Parents can help by knowing the warning signs—and understanding where to go when they strike.
When to Visit the Pediatrician
In many cases, the pediatrician’s office is a good place to start. Primary care doctors can often make the initial evaluation and diagnose your child with a concussion. Talk with your pediatrician if your child has a blow, fall, or jolt and:
- Seems dazed, stunned, or confused
- Has a headache or a feeling of pressure
- Can’t remember what happened right before, or after
- Answers questions slowly
- Appears sensitive to light or noise
Babies, infants, and toddlers can have concussions, too. It’s often harder to spot the signs. Besides those above, they may cry inconsolably and refuse to nurse or eat.
When to Go to the ER
In rare cases, concussions can cause dangerous blood clots that need urgent treatment. Head to the emergency room if your child loses consciousness after a head injury—even for a minute. Other danger signs that warrant a 911 call include:
- Shaking or twitching
- Drowsiness, or if you can’t wake your child up
- Ongoing vomiting or nausea
- One pupil larger than the other
- A headache that keeps getting worse
- Slurred speech
- Trouble recognizing places or people
- Strange behavior that includes increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
As your child recovers, he or she might also need to see a specialist. Experts who treat children with concussions include neurologists, neuropsychologists, sports medicine physicians, and rehab professionals, such as speech pathologists. Your child’s doctor can guide you to the best resources.
Learn more about emergency and urgent care services at WCHN: