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Seeking medical attention for a hit on the head


July 10, 2014
Q. When should my child seek medical care if he has been hit in the head?

A. If you are a parent, chances are your child has experienced a bump in the head. But when do you know if your child needs just a little comforting or the bump or injury requires immediate medical attention? The good news is most bumps in the head are minor, but traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about half of all patients hospitalized with head injuries are less than 20 years of age. Boys are also injured twice as often as girls.

Parents should look for the following warning signs after a bump in the head to determine if medical attention is warranted:

Child is not alert or responsive after injury,

a headache that gets worse over time,

slurred speech, dizziness, blurred vision or confusion

difficulty recognizing people,

vomiting more than two or three times,

stumbling or weakness of arms or legs,

child has blood or watery fluid from the nose or ears,

difficulty waking up or excessive sleepiness,

unequal size of the pupils or

convulsions (seizures).

After any bump in the head, parents should monitor their child closely and call their pediatrician if there is any question about how the child is responding or behaving after the injury.

If a child experiences a particularly scary mechanism of injury, such as being hit by a car, a high velocity impact, or a fall from more than standing height, it warrants medical attention.

Also, if a child experiences a concussion, parents should make sure they follow the return-to-play guidelines prescribed by athletic trainers and/or their pediatrician. In the car, always wear seat belts and properly restrain the child according to age-appropriate car seat guidelines. The same goes for a bicycle helmet. Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter the age.

Sarnaik is a critical care medicine physician on staff at DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan. For more information on pediatric medical conditions visit childrensdmc.org or call (313) 745-KIDS or toll-free at (888) 362-2500.

The Family Center serves as the community's hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. Its mission is to serve the community through programs and resources vital to today's families.

The Family Center is a non-profit organization, all gifts are tax-deductible.

To volunteer or contribute, visit familycenterweb.org, call (313) 432-3832.

E-mail inquiries or requets to info@familycen

terweb.org or write to: The Family Center, 20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

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