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Concussion In Children

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

A concussion is a mild brain injury. It is usually caused by a bump or blow to your child's head from a fall, a motor vehicle crash, or a sports injury. Your child may also get a concussion from being shaken forcefully.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child is harder to wake than usual or you cannot wake him or her.
  • Your child has a seizure, increasing confusion, or a change in personality.
  • Your child's speech becomes slurred.
  • Your child has new vision problems.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has a headache that gets worse or he or she develops a severe headache.
  • Your child has arm or leg weakness, loss of feeling, or new problems with coordination.
  • Your child will not stop crying, or will not eat.
  • Your child has blood or clear fluid coming out of his or her ears or nose.
  • Your child is an infant and has a bulging soft spot on his or her head.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has nausea or vomits.
  • Your child's symptoms get worse.
  • Your child's symptoms last longer than 6 weeks after the injury.
  • Your child has trouble concentrating or dizziness.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Medicines:

Your child may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines your child uses to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your child's doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • 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.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your child's concussion:

Usually no treatment is needed. Concussion symptoms usually go away within about 10 days, but they may last longer. The following may be recommended to manage your child's symptoms:

  • Watch your child closely for the first 24 to 72 hours after the injury. Contact your child's healthcare provider if the symptoms get worse, or if your child develops new symptoms.
  • Have your child rest from physical and mental activities as directed. Mental activities are those that require thinking, concentration, and attention. This includes school, homework, video games, computers, and television. Rest will help your child to recover from a concussion. Ask your child's healthcare provider when he or she can return to school and other daily activities.
  • Do not allow your child to participate in sports and physical activities until his or her healthcare provider says it is okay. These activities could make your child's symptoms worse or lead to another concussion. Your child's healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay for him or her to return to sports or physical activities. Ask for more information about sports concussions.

Prevent another concussion:

  • Make your home safe for your child. Home safety measures can help prevent head injuries that could lead to a concussion. Put self-latching gates at the bottoms and tops of stairs. Screw the gate to the wall at the tops of stairs. Install handrails for every staircase. Put soft bumpers on furniture edges and corners. Secure furniture, such as dressers and book cases, so your child cannot pull it over.
  • Make sure your child is in a proper car seat, booster seat, or wears a seatbelt every time he or she travels. This helps to decrease your child's risk for a head injury if he or she is in a car accident.
  • Have your child wear protective sports equipment that fits properly. Helmets help decrease your child's risk for a serious brain injury. Talk to your healthcare provider about other ways that you can decrease your child's risk for a concussion if he or she plays sports.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Concussion In Children (Discharge Care)

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