Suspected Internal Injury
The brain is cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid, but a severe blow to the head may knock the brain into the side of the skull or tear blood vessels. Any internal head injury — fractured skull, torn blood vessels, or damage to the brain itself — can be serious and possibly life threatening.
Different levels of injury require different levels of concern. It can be difficult to determine the level of injury, so it's always wise to discuss a head injury with your doctor. A clear indicator of a more serious injury is when a child loses consciousness or has signs of confusion.
What to Look for and What to Do
Call an ambulance if your child shows any of these symptoms:
- abnormal breathing
- obvious serious wound or fracture
- bleeding or clear fluid from the nose, ear, or mouth
- disturbance of speech or vision
- pupils of unequal size
- weakness or paralysis
- neck pain or stiffness
- vomiting more than two to three times
- loss of bladder or bowel control
If your child is unconscious:
- Do not try to move your child in case there is a neck or spine injury.
- Call for help.
- If you've been trained in CPR, follow the recommendations if they're appropriate.
- Turn a child who is vomiting or having a seizure onto his or her side while trying to keep the head and neck straight. This will help prevent choking and provide protection in case of neck and spine injury.
- If there's swelling, apply an ice pack or cold pack.
If your child is conscious:
- Do your best to keep your child calm and still.
- If there's bleeding, apply a sterile bandage.
- Do not attempt to cleanse the wound, which may aggravate bleeding and/or cause serious complications if the skull is fractured.
- Do not apply direct pressure to the wound if you suspect the skull is fractured.
- Do not remove any object that's stuck in the wound.