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Brain Injury News and Research - Concussion Symptoms in Young Children

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Concussions in Babies and Young Children

Concussions are a common type of head injury. They are often caused by a blow to the head or a sudden impact. The person could lose consciousness. A concussion is characterized by a brief loss of normal brain function. When a baby experiences a concussion, it is a frightening experience for the child and the parents alike. Symptoms may occur immediately, or they could be delayed by hours or even days after the initial incident.

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Concussion Signs and Symptoms

Adults know when they have taken a hard hit to the head and usually realize when they have been knocked unconscious. Unfortunately, babies and children are not always able to provide this important information to an adult. Parents and caregivers need to know the signs and symptoms of a concussion so that treatment can be provided as quickly as possible.

Observe the child or baby for visible signs of harm. They may have trouble balancing and may have a dazed or blank look in their eyes. They may also be holding or rubbing their head. Although these types of injuries are often painful, don’t judge the severity of a baby’s wound by their crying alone. Additional symptoms of head trauma include confusion, vision problems such as double vision or seeing flashing lights, slurred speech. The child could also feel nausea or dizziness and might have a headache.

Certainly, determining the severity of a head injury is more difficult with a baby. An infant may have swelling on the scalp and may be listless or extremely tired. The baby could be inconsolable and might refuse to take a bottle or nurse. Infants could revert back to old behaviors and lose some of their newly acquired skills. For instance, a young child who just learned to walk could revert to crawling.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Concussions are not generally seen on x-rays so they can be more difficult to diagnose. A parent who thinks a baby or child could have suffered head trauma should seek medical treatment immediately. Some injuries may be extremely serious, and any delay in treatment could cause the damage to worsen. Head trauma should be examined quickly but no later than 24 to 72 hours after the injury.

According to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, symptoms can vary from person to person. Children’s concussion symptoms are often more severe than those of adults. Additionally, the recovery time for children is longer, possibly because their brains are not yet fully developed. Most children recover in about a month, but some kids could take longer to heal.

It is important that children don’t re-injure their head before the first injury has healed. A secondary injury could cause more severe and longer-lasting symptoms. In some instances, the child could suffer irreparable brain damage due to a secondary impact. A study published in Pediatrics, a medical journal, found that the outcome of the injury was dependent upon how soon a secondary injury occurred. Children should not participate in high impact sports activities until their wound has completely healed.