Skull Fracture In Children
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- A skull fracture (FRAK-chur) is also known as a cranial fracture. This occurs when a part of your child's skull (bones of the head covering the brain) is broken. Children have heads that are large in size, as compared to the rest of their bodies. A skull fracture may be caused by an injury or trauma to the head when a child falls from a height. A direct blow during a fight, physical abuse, or a car accident may also cause a skull fracture. Common signs and symptoms may include a bump at the site, cut, bruise, swelling, or deformity on his head. Your child may vomit (throw up), pass out, have a headache or seizure (convulsion), or become dizzy and fussy.
- An x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scan may be used for diagnosis. He may also need other tests, such as intracranial monitoring, or electroencephalogram (EEG). Treatment may include medicines for the relief of symptoms or surgery if the fracture is bad. A bad skull fracture includes a depression (caving in) of the skull or a large fracture that involves blood vessels. Most skull fractures heal within 3 to 6 months. The younger your child is, the faster the fracture will heal without further problems. With proper treatment, such as medicine and a brace, your child has a greater chance of having a full recovery.
- Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age: Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
- Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.
Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.Ask your child's caregiver about the proper way to take care of his wound or change his bandage. It is also important to know how often your child's bandage needs to be changed.
- Exercise: Talk to your child's caregiver before you let him start exercising again. Together you can plan the best exercise program for your child. It is best to start slowly and do more as he gets stronger. Exercising will help make his bones and muscles stronger.
- Your child may need more rest than he realizes while he heals. Quiet play will keep your child safely busy so he does not become restless and risk injuring himself. Have your child read or draw quietly. Follow instructions for how much rest your child should get while he heals.
- Sports: Do not let your child play contact sports, such as football, while his skull is still healing. His fractured skull may break again, bleed, or bruise easily. Talk to your child's caregiver before you let him start playing contact sports again.
Caregivers may put a brace on your child's neck to keep it from moving. It may also be used to decrease pain. Ask your child's caregiver for more information on brace care.
Apply an ice pack to your child's skin on top of the swollen part to decrease swelling, pain, and redness. An ice pack may be made by putting crushed or cubed ice in a plastic bag or ice pack. Mix some water with the ice to more evenly distribute the cold and cover it with a towel. Do not leave the ice pack on the skin for a long time to avoid skin damage.
Preventing another skull fracture:
- Always put your child in a car safety seat in the back seat. Do not start the car until your child's seat belt is fastened. Ask your caregiver for more information about car safety seats. If your child is old enough, he should wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a car.
- Do not leave your baby alone on the bed, changing table, or couch. Place him in a crib or playpen if you must leave him unattended.
- Do not let your child dive into a shallow pool area or in water where the depth is not known.
- Make sure your child wears proper padding and protective gear when playing sports. These include wrist guards, a helmet, kneepads, and a mouth guard that meet safety standards. Teach your child about following safety regulations. Ask your caregiver for more information about bicycle helmet safety.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child's headache is getting worse even after giving him pain medicines.
- Your child's bandage has new stains or a bad odor.
- Your child's skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- Your child cannot make it to his next appointment with his caregiver.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's injury, treatment, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- Your child has any of the following problems:
- Becomes more fussy, restless, or sleepier than usual.
- Blood or clear fluid is coming from his nose or ears.
- One pupil (black area in the center of the eye) looks larger than the pupil of the other eye .
- Trouble hearing, has slurred speech, has double or blurred vision (sight).
- Tense or bulging fontanel (soft spot on the top of his head) if your child is an infant.
- Weak arm or leg on one side of his body. He may be stumbling or have problems moving or walking.
- Becomes more fussy, restless, or sleepier than usual.
- Your child has a seizure (convulsion).
- Your child is vomiting.
- Your child has breathing problems.
- Your child seems confused or does not know his family or friends.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.