Brain & Head Injuries in Children: What Adults Should Know

Brain & Head Injuries in Children: What Adults Should KnowOne of the more serious injuries that children may sustain is brain injury. Such injuries can lead to devastating, permanent changes.

One of the dangerous characteristics about a brain injury is that it a brain injury can arise from trauma that doesn’t cause a visible injury or result in pain. After suffering head trauma, a child may not know why he or she “feels wrong” and parents may not appreciate the extent of the child’s injury.

What are common brain and head injuries in children?

The different types of brain injuries range from mild to severe, and may be categorized as open or closed. Per Johns Hopkins, there are four types of brain and head injuries common in children.

Head trauma can result in a contusion, or bruise on the head. Bumps and bruises external to the skull can arise after a child strikes his or her head. Children often get knots on the heads from being kids.  Some of the symptoms of a contusion are the discoloration of the skin, swelling, and tightness in the affected area. A brain injury does not necessarily result from a head contusion.

If a blow to the head does affect the brain but does not fracture the skull or cause bleeding on the brain, it is characterized as a concussion. A concussion simply means that the brain itself has been physically affected by trauma. A loss of consciousness is not required in order for a concussion to have occurred but a loss of consciousness is a clear symptom of a concussion, and usually indicates a more serious blow to the head. Some common symptoms of a concussion involve a headache or “pressure” to the head, nausea or vomiting, confusion and concentration issues, dizziness, and blurry vision, sensitivity to light or sound, and emotional lability (inappropriate or extreme emotional responses). In the majority of instances, concussion symptoms resolve with time. Recovery from concussions can require physical, occupational, speech, and vision therapies. The continued presence of post-concussive symptoms over months is often referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury. That does not mean that the effects of the concussion are mild. They can be significant and permanent. If your child suffers any type of head trauma, it is in your best interest to bring your child to a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

A blow to the head can cause a skull fracture – a break in the skull. There are four different types of skull fractures:

  • A linear skull fracture is a fracture where there is a break in the bone, but the bone does not move.
  • A depressed skull fracture is a fracture where part of the skull sinks in as a result of the trauma.
  • A diastatic skull fracture is a skull fracture that happens along the suture lines in the skull; with this type of fracture, the normal suture lines are widened.
  • The basilar skull fracture is one of the most serious types of skull fractures where a break in the bone happens at the base of the skull.

In any skull fracture, there is a risk of a brain injury as well. All skull fractures should be treated as medical emergencies. The more severe the head trauma, the more likely it is that the brain will suffering dangerous swelling.

Trauma to the head can also cause internal bleeding or a brain hemorrhage – which is a severe injury. This type of injury occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, leading to bleeding in the surrounding tissue and swelling. The blood bursting around the surrounding tissue is at risk of also collecting and forming a clot, causing what is known as a hematoma.

An epidural hematoma is a condition where clotting occurs between the inside of the skull and the outer covering of the brain. Some symptoms of internal bleeding are a sudden severe headache, lethargy, nausea or repeated vomiting, weakness in an arm or leg, and a loss of consciousness.

Brain hemorrhages are usually identified during emergency treatment following head trauma. The risk of brain swelling and hemorrhage is why immediate emergency treatment is recommended following head trauma.

What are some of the common causes of head and brain injuries in children?

There are many causes of head injuries for children. Some of the common causes involve sports injuries, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and child abuse. A head injury has a greater chance of happening in adolescents and is twice as frequent for adolescent males than in females.

Children have a higher chance of suffering from head trauma which results in a brain injury during the spring and summer when children are more active in outdoor activities. Children who participate in competitive sports like soccer, football, basketball, and hockey are at a greater risk of suffering from particular brain injuries like concussions.

How are head and brain injuries diagnosed in children?

If a child has experienced head trauma, medical evaluation is warranted. The more severe the trauma, the more important immediate treatment becomes. The full extent of a brain injury may not be easily diagnosed, initially. Diagnosis usually begins with a physical examination followed by x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Further diagnostic testing may be warranted, including electroencephalograms (EEG) and more sophisticated imaging techniques that measure brain cell metabolism, such as single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and diffusion tensor imaging (TDI), which can help visualize subtle injuries to the brain.

What are some treatments for children who have suffered brain injuries?

The physician will determine the best type of treatment for the child based on factors such as the child’s age, the child’s overall health and medical history, how well the child handles specific medications and procedures, how long the injury is expected to last, and the opinion of the parents or guardians.

In cases involving minor head or brain injuries, a doctor may prescribe rest or an ice pack. In emergency situations, however, a child may require surgery. The physician may also request that the child be monitored for increased intracranial pressure or pressure inside the skull. The treatment is customized depending on the extent of the brain injury, and the presence of additional injuries.

What are some permanent injuries that children can endure from brain injuries?

Children who endure severe brain injuries are at risk of paralysis and of losing parts of speech, vision, hearing, muscle control, and senses, depending on the area of the brain that was damaged. A child is also at risk of experiencing short-term or long-term personality changes. Children who suffer from brain injuries are also at risk of requiring long-term medical and rehabilitative services.

If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic brain injury and would like to take legal action, schedule a free consultation with KBG Injury Law today. Our experienced York, PA traumatic brain injury attorneys are well equipped in advocating on behalf of the client and will show compassion for our clients while working hard to ensure that they receive the appropriate compensation which they deserve. Call us today at 717-848-3838 or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients in York, Lancaster, Hanover, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg.