Head Injury

Advice for parents and carers of children

If your child has any of the following in the 48 hours following their head injury:

●      The head injury was high impact for example:

○      A road traffic accident

○      Fall from a height of more than 1 metre (more than the child’s own height, or more than 5 stairs)

●      A bruise, swelling or cut more than 5cm on the head

●      Vomits 3 times or more (at least 10 minutes between each vomit)

●      Behaves oddly, becomes confused or unaware of their surroundings

●      Loses consciousness, becomes drowsy or difficult to wake

●      Has a convulsion or fit (uncontrolled jerking, twitching movements)

●      Has difficulty speaking or understanding what you are saying

●      Has weakness in their arms and legs or starts losing their balance

●      Has new problems with their eyesight

●      Has clear fluid coming out of their nose or ears

●      Bruising around their eyes or behind their ears

●      Does not wake for feeds, is irritable or cries constantly and cannot be soothed

●      Has memory loss of events before or after the injury

●      Takes blood thinners or has a bleeding or clotting disorder

You need urgent help

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following in the 48 hours following their head injury: 

●        Has a headache that doesn’t go away or gets worse (despite painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen) 

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today

Please ring your GP surgery or contact NHS 111 - dial 111 or for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk

If none of the above features are present:

●      Is alert and interacts with you

●      Vomits, but only up to twice

●      Experiences mild headaches, struggles to concentrate, lacks appetite or has problems sleeping. If you are very concerned about these symptoms or they go on for more than 2 weeks, make an appointment to see your GP

●      Watch them closely for any change and look out for any red or amber symptoms

●      Additional advice is also available for families for help cope with crying in otherwise well babies

●      If your child has a long term condition or disability and you are worried please contact your regular team or follow any plans that they have given you.


Self Care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, contact NHS 111 – dial 111 or for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk

How can I look after my child?

  • Ensure that they have plenty of rest initially. A gradual return to normal activities/school is always recommended.
  • Increase activities only as symptoms improve and at a manageable pace.
  • It is best to avoid computer games, sporting activity and excessive exercise until all symptoms have improved.

Concussion following a head injury

  • Symptoms of concussion include mild headache, feeling sick (without vomiting), dizziness, bad temper, problems concentrating, difficulty remembering things, tiredness, lack of appetite or problems sleeping – these can last for a few days, weeks or even months. Some symptoms resolve quickly whilst others may take a little longer.
  • Concussion can happen after a mild head injury, even if they haven’t been “knocked out”.
  • 9 out of 10 children with concussion recover fully, but some can experience long term effects, especially if they return to sporting activities too quickly. It is really important that your child has a gradual return to normal activities and that they are assessed by a doctor before beginning activities that may result in them having another head injury.
  • If you are very concerned about these symptoms or they last longer than 2 months, you should seek medical advice from your doctor.

Advice about going back to nursery / school

  • Don’t allow your child to return to school until you feel that they have completely recovered.
  • Try not to leave your child alone at home for the first 48 hours after a significant head injury

Advice about returning to sport

  • Repeated head injury during recovery from concussion can cause long term damage to a child’s brain.
  • Expect to stay off sport until at least 2 weeks after symptoms are fully recovered.
  • Always discuss with your child’s school and sports club to discuss a gradual return to full activity.

For further information:

Rugby: Click here.

Football: Click here.

This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

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