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Concussions: What Every Parent Should Know

One minute your child is playing happily; the next minute he’s tripped and fallen hard to the ground. He gets up and continues playing normally. You notice as the week goes on he is fussier than normal, sleeping more than usual and he is having trouble with his balance and coordination. But he was fine right after he fell, and he didn’t pass out or vomit so it couldn’t be a concussion, could it?

A concussion is a brain injury caused by any direct or indirect blow to the head or body. Concussions are commonly caused by falls or activity injuries, such as running into fixed objects or other children. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may occur right away, after the injury, or hours or even days later.

All concussions are serious and most occur without the loss of consciousness. The younger the child, the harder it is to diagnose a concussion because young children can’t always tell you how they feel. A concussion can’t be seen on an X-ray, MRI or CT scan. Therefore, if your child has fallen and/or bumped their head watch for the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

Symptoms in infants and toddlers:

• Unsteady walking, loss of balance (one of the most obvious symptoms)

• Crankiness, irritability or difficult to console

• Changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns

• Tiring easily or lack of interest in usual activities • Sensitivity to light and/or noise

• Visual problems

• Headache or they are rubbing their head a lot

• Nausea and vomiting


If you suspect a concussion:

• Have your child stop the activity right away

• Have your child see a physician or Nurse Practitioner as soon as possible

• Monitor your child closely for any physical, mental or emotional changes

•After a concussion, kids need to let their brains rest. That means cutting out as much unnecessary physical, mental and emotional activities as possible for as long as advised by their doctor or nurse practitioner.

By Meagan Melling RN, BScN                                                                                                                                                          Public Health Nurse – Child Safety                                                                                                                                                    Healthy Communities and Injury Prevention Team                                                                                                              Middlesex London Health Unit



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