Has your child recently hit or bumped their head? You may think concussions only happen on the football field, but many children suffer concussions off of the playing field during falls or other accidents.

It’s important to understand what a concussion is, how to recognize the signs and symptoms, and when it’s time to make a visit to Katy ER for medical attention. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

What is a concussion?

Your child’s brain is well-protected by their skull. The bones of the skull work like a helmet, keeping them safe during most bumps. But if your child’s head is hit hard enough, it can cause the brain to move back and forth inside the skull, causing a concussion.

Also called a head injury or mild traumatic brain injury, a concussion is caused by a hard bump, blow, or jolt to the head. This traumatic impact causes the brain to stop working normally for a time. Most concussions are mild, and your child will recover completely.

What to look for

Symptoms of a concussion can show up right after the injury, or it may take a few hours or even days. Sometimes your child may also suffer from a complex disorder known as post-concussion syndrome that can last for weeks or months after the initial injury.

If your child has had an injury to their head, keep an eye on them for the next few days. Even if your child did not lose consciousness or get knocked out, you need to pay close attention to them.

Concussions can cause physical, cognitive (thinking), and emotional changes. Here are the symptoms to look for:

Physical changes:

  • Headaches
  • Being really tired or drowsy
  • Unable to wake easily
  • No energy
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Numbness or tingling anywhere in the body
  • Loss of balance or trouble walking

Thinking and emotional changes:

  • Being irritable, cranky, or fussy
  • Feeling more emotional, like sad, worried, or nervous
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Not remembering how the injury happened
  • Being easily confused
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering
  • Personality changes

When to see a doctor

It’s always a good idea to have your child evaluated after any severe trauma to the head. In the first 1-2 days after the injury, you should watch your child very carefully. Seek immediate medical help if your child:

  • Loses consciousness, even briefly
  • Won’t wake up
  • Vomits multiple times
  • Complains of a severe headache that gets worse or won’t go away
  • Has weakness, numbness, trouble walking, or lacks coordination
  • Has difficulty recognizing familiar people
  • Is very confused
  • Has trouble talking or slurred speech
  • Has a seizure
  • Cries nonstop or can’t be comforted
  • Has any other sudden or unusual change in thinking or behavior

If you suspect a concussion, but just aren’t sure, come right into Katy ER to have your child evaluated. We’re open 24 hours a day for your emergency care needs.