When to Seek Emergency Help for Child Head Injuries

When to Seek Emergency Help for Child Head Injuries

SponsoredNorthern Nevada Health System

While children can be the greatest source of joy, they also may cause undue stress because of their rambunctious nature! You may experience a child head injury, but do you know how to recognize signs of concern?

We should not stop our children from experiencing the world of play, but it is important to understand the signs of a head injury and how to seek help should your child need it.

Here are some causes, indicators and symptoms for when to seek emergency help for child head injuries from Dr. Josh Wood, MD, family medicine, sports medicine and urgent care physician at Northern Nevada Medical Group.

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What are some common causes of head injuries in children?

Childhood head injuries are usually the result of children being children. Some of the most common causes of head injuries are running into low-hanging objects, rough play with other children, and falls or accidents from biking, scooters, or other modes of transport.

What are some indicators that my child may be suffering from a concussion?

There are three different areas in which you can look for signs of a concussion in your child: cognitive, somatic and affect.


Cognitive changes are any symptoms that are related to noticeable mental impairments. These can include memory loss, confusion, inability to focus, blank stares, brain fog and difficulty following directions.


Somatic indicators refer to any physical symptoms, including struggling with coordination, headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and seizures.


Lastly, affect signs are any emotional impairments that your child may be experiencing. If your child is struggling with expressing any emotions and can be described as “having their emotions turned off,” they may be suffering from an affect symptom.

How do I know when child head injuries require an emergency room or urgent care visit?

The level of medical care you should seek for your child depends on the severity of their symptoms. If your child is experiencing mild symptoms, which can include slight headaches, difficulty focusing or a sleeping disturbance, you should seek care at the nearest urgent care.  The urgent care provider will be able to refer your child to a concussion specialist if needed.

If your child is experiencing severe reactions to a head injury and are showing signs of confusion, loss of consciousness, persistent nausea and vomiting, blurry vision or seizures, you should take them to the emergency room immediately. An emergency room visit will be able to rule out a more severe diagnosis.

Please keep in mind that while these are some of the most common mild and severe symptoms, it is not a comprehensive list. If you are concerned about your child’s health, seek help.

It will always be preferred that you are told your child is fine than to wish you had taken them to receive care.

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Are there things I should prevent my child from doing while waiting for a diagnosis?

If you are concerned that your child might be suffering from a concussion, it is recommended that you remove screen time temporarily. These include the tv, computer and phone screens. Try to keep your child in a relaxing, non-stimulating environment.

A calming environment is a space with decreased light that allows your child to properly rest. You can create this environment in any room by using a night light and playing soft white noise in the background.

What are some ways I can help to prevent my child from experiencing another head injury?

While your child is recovering from a head injury, it is important to prevent them from participating in activities that can re-injure the head. While children are excited to get back to their regular roughhousing routine, it is important to encourage your child to ease back into activities.

Participating in an aggressive activity right after a head injury can result in a compounded injury, which can slow your child’s healing and increase the length of time it will take for their symptoms to subside.

Another way your child can help to prevent another head injury is by actively stretching their neck and body to strengthen the muscles in the affected areas. Remember that your child can go back to their favorite activities if they take the time to carefully rebuild their strength.

Know the symptoms of child head injuries to feel more prepared

Head injuries can be scary for children and parents alike but being aware of common symptoms can help to give you control over the care your child receives. Remember that if your child is acting differently after a head bump and you are concerned about their health, medical professionals are ready to address any questions you may have.

Thank you to Northern Nevada Health System for sponsoring this post on When to Seek Emergency Help for Child Head Injuries by Dr. Josh Wood, MD.

Northern Nevada Health System is a regional network of care that has elevated and improved access to healthcare for 40 years. The System operates two acute care hospitals located in Sparks and Reno, 24/7 freestanding emergency departments, a Medical Group which offers family and internal medicine, urgent care and specialty care, and Quail Surgical and Pain Management. NNHS is committed to maintaining and improving the well-being of the community and is known for top-rated patient satisfaction, in addition to providing quality care and a safe environment for patients to heal. To learn more, visit northernnevadahealth.com.