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Head Injuries - How Serious Are They?

A bump on the head can sometimes turn into something more serious. Read our guide on how to spot telltale signs of a head injury and how to help...

It is very common for children to bump their heads running around the playground, football pitch, or even at home. Often a simple bump can be treated with a cold flannel and some reassurance. But you must always keep an eye on the child as it could develop into something more serious at any point later on. Below are some tips on what to look out for...


Concussion comes as a result of a brief lapse in consciousness after a blow to the head. In itself, concussion is not life-threatening and often passes, but it could develop into cerebral compression depending on how hard their head was hit. Symptoms include:

  • Mild headache

  • Dizziness/disorientation

  • Pale and clammy skin

  • Nausea

  • Confusion, forgetting events leading up to the incident

If you suspect a child has concussion, take them to hospital straight away and keep a close eye on them.

Cerebral Compression

This is the build-up of blood pressure on the brain after a head injury. This can happen immediately after the blow to the head, or it can take days. Signs to look out for are as follows:

  • Decreased level of consciousness

  • Intense headache

  • Noisy, low breathing

  • Unequal pupils

  • Aggression/unusual behaviour

  • Red, flushed with a high temperature

  • One side of the body may be paralysed

Get the child to hospital immediately as they will require surgery to relieve the blood pressure. Keep an eye on vital signs (breathing, level of consciousness etc.) and keep them upright if they are still conscious.

Skull Fracture

If a child has hit their head hard, you should suspect a skull fracture as it could lead to brain damage and be indicative of spinal injuries. You should look out for the following signs:

  • Bruising around the eyes, whites may have red specks

  • Swelling behind an ear

  • Cerebral Spinal Fluid (yellowish fluid) coming from ears or nose

  • Facial distortion

  • Low level of consciousness

If any of these symptoms appear, get help immediately. Put the child in the recovery position to allow any fluids to drain out and reduce the pressure on the brain.

With any head injury, you should also suspect spinal injuries. Make sure you keep the child as still as possible until they can be assessed by a medical professional.

Head injuries can be a scary subject, but our Resus Rangers School Resources Programme introduces the dangers of head injuries in a child-centred and friendly way. If you would like to learn more about our programme, click the link below!

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