A concussion is also called a “mild traumatic brain injury,” but we think that term is deceiving: after all, the word “traumatic” is still part of that description. No matter how mild it might be, a brain injury is a brain injury. When a child gets a concussion, such as in a car accident or from a fall, it is important that you seek medical advice right away.
Diagnosing and treating children for concussions is often more difficult than examining and treating adults, especially if your children are small. They need their parents, teachers, and other adults to observe them and ask them questions. That is why it is so important for you, as a caretaker, to understand what the signs of concussion are, if your child is unable to communicate what happened to him or her.
Diagnosing a concussion in an infant
According to BrainLine, a national traumatic brain injury resource, the signs of a concussion differ depending on whether the child is an infant, a pre-adolescent, or an adolescent. In infants, common TBI signs include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Crying that just seems to never stop
- An inability to be comforted
- Difficulty sleeping
- Long periods of inactivity
- Not eating
- Bulging anterior fontanelle (a soft head spot)
Another sign is the loss of recent developmental skills, though this loss is often temporary. Infants may develop dizziness or vertigo. In serious TBI cases, the baby’s head may stop growing for a few weeks. BrainLine recommends that the child’s routine be kept as normal as possible. In many cases, the child’s health will return to normal. If a concussion or TBI is suspected, the best course of action is to see the family’s doctor. That doctor may recommend your baby be evaluated by a neurologist.
Recognizing the signs of concussion in children and adolescents
For younger children and adolescents, it can be easier to diagnose an injury because they can generally tell you what happened. Children who are non-verbal, however, may need to be tested for current abilities against a baseline of the child’s cognitive and development skills.
Some of the markers for concussion in preschool and school-age children are:
- Loss of attention span
- A short loss of consciousness
- Difficulty sleeping
The Mayo Clinic adds a few additional factors and concerns for childhood concussions:
- When children return to school, they may need to shorten their day and have an easier course load. Children who have suffered a TBI should be encouraged to go at their own pace.
- Children with a prior concussion should be monitored before they are allowed to participate in sports.
- Understand that a child doesn’t have to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion.
- Children who have had a concussion may have difficulty with balance. They may feel groggy. They may have noticeable personality and behavioral changes including mood swings.
As with any TBI, the best course of action is to seek a medical consultation.
Don’t delay. It’s important for our child’s health and your peace of mind to know whether your child has a TBI and how severe it is. At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, our Gladiators in Suits fight for you. To understand your rights, please call us at 615-246-5549 or complete our contact form to make an appointment. We maintain office locations in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville, Tennessee, and represent clients throughout the state.