Topic Overview

What to watch for after a head injury

A minor head injury is sometimes hard to distinguish
from a more serious injury to the brain even when there is no visible bleeding
or injury on the outside of the skull.

Check for the following
changes immediately after a head injury:

  • A significant change in the child’s
    level of consciousness
  • Confusion or not
    acting normal, such as extreme fussiness or crying that cannot be
  • Abnormally deep sleep, trouble waking up, or extreme
  • Vomiting
  • Symptoms that affect one side of
    the body more than the other side, such as weakness or problems moving an arm
    or leg
  • Loss of vision
  • Seizure

A decrease in
level of consciousness following a head injury may
signal a life-threatening problem caused by bleeding, injury, or swelling
within or around the brain. A child’s level of consciousness can deteriorate
suddenly or gradually. This change can be permanent or temporary.

If a parent or caregiver can’t be sure that a child was conscious
following a head injury, a visit to a doctor is needed for further


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017