How do I know if my kid has a concussion? A guide for parents

What do you need to know about your child's head bumps?

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Clumsiness is part and parcel of childhood – especially in younger babies who’ve just started to walk and in toddlers, who often just run around madly, seemingly with no thought. Even older kids are clumsy, especially when they play. So, it’s only natural that they fall… and bump their heads. 

Usually, the pain of a bump can be “cured” by a kiss and an ice-pack. But some bumps are more serious than others, especially when they are linked to concussion. If your child is prone to bumping their heads, then you may have Googled this question many times: “How do I know if kid has concussion?” 

We’re here to help. 

How Do I Know if Kid Has Concussion?

What is a concussion? 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, concussion is usually caused by either a direct or an indirect blow to the head, face, or neck or elsewhere on the body with an “impulsive” force transmitted to the head.

Yes, this sounds scary. But you should know that usually, the effects are not long-lasting or life-threatening. Headaches, difficulty concentrating and issues with balance and coordination may be some of the results of concussion. 

Let’s discuss these in more detail. 

“How do I know if kid has concussion?”

What Are the Symptoms of Concussion?

Since the symptoms of concussion are not immediately apparent, things can get quite confusing. There are also different signs to look out for in babies, toddlers and older kids. 

It is best to know these symptoms and observe your kids closely.

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Symptoms in Babies

Since babies cannot talk to express their pain or tell you where it hurts, be very alert if your baby knocks his head. 

Look out for these signs: 

  • Irritability
  • Cries following even a slight movement of the head
  • Noticeable bump or bruise
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Vomiting

Symptoms in Toddlers

Toddlers are a little bit better when it comes to letting you know what hurts and where it hurts. Hear them out when they complain about something before it gets too serious.

Look out for these signs: 

  • Change in behaviour
  • Lack of enthusiasm for favourite activities such as playing with toys
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Headache
  • Grumpiness
  • Vomiting 

Symptoms in Older Children

Symptoms of concussion in older children (three years old and above) are similar to those of a toddler but there are more behavioural changes that you need to watch out for.

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  • Rapid mood swings
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Trouble with concentration
  • High sensitivity to light and noise
  • Trouble with balance
  • Dizziness

Note: An older child with symptoms of concussion should never return to play sports until completely better. 

Treatment for Concussion

The best treatment for concussion is lots of rest. The brain needs it for healing and recovery. This also means that mental and physical activities should be minimised, so cut out your kid’s usage of electronics, such as phones, tablets, and gaming consoles.

Tip: Encourage early and longer bed times, quiet moments and afternoon naps to let your child’s brain heal faster.

Lots of rest can help heal the brain. | Image source: file photo

A trip to the doctor is wise as well after a big head bump, since they can help you out with more medical interventions if needed. No test can diagnose concussion, but your kid’s doctor may check further through a CT Scan or MRI to guarantee that there is no internal bleeding.

Awareness of the symptoms of concussion is important to avoid risk of repeated incidents and long-term complications which may cause permanent damage to your kid’s brain. 

Meanwhile, here are some tips on how to minimise the risk of concussion for kids.

  • Wear protective gear for outdoor activities like bicycling. 
  • Buckle their seatbelts.
  • Make your home safe and child-proof. 

Tip: Use edge and corner guards for tables and chairs. Make sure the house is well lit and that the floor is always dry and free from anything that may cause your child to slip or fall over.

Install window guards and block staircases.

Source: Healthline

Read also: Teaching Kids About Emergencies: 7 Important Lessons for Kids