Children and traumatic head injuries: Guide with dos and don’ts for parents and caregivers | Health

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is seen to be one of the leading causes of disability and death in children where the patients from the age group below 15 years account for 20-30% of all head injuries cases presenting to hospitals and India comprises of 35% population of this age group. Falls are the leading cause of TBI in children, other causes of pediatric TBI include sporting events, falls of heavy objects and motor vehicle collisions hence, adequate precautions and carefulness on the part of parents can help avoid disastrous consequences for the children.

Children and traumatic head injuries: Guide with dos and don’ts for parents and caregivers (Photo by Bianca DeLong)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Jayesh Sardhara, Senior Consultant – Neuro and Spine Surgery and Dr Rushabh Chheda, Associate consultant at Fortis Hospital in Mulund and Kalyan, shared, “Traumatic injuries to the head can cause injury to scalp tissue apart from brain injuries which can lead to lethal blood loss and hemorrhagic shock in a newborn or an infant and this which may occur without any external bleeding. Health care professionals commonly use the Pediatric Glasgow Coma Scale (PGCS) for assessment of children which present with traumatic brain injury to assess consciousness and to define the severity of head injuries as mild, moderate or severe.”

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According to the experts, advances in diagnostic imaging have improved the quality of care by assisting healthcare providers to facilitate accurate diagnosis, appropriate selection of treatment, prevention of further complications such as higher brain dysfunction to children with TBI. However, delay in arrival at a primary care centre can have catastrophic outcomes and hence it is important for parents to look for warning signs.

Talking about the symptoms, Dr Jayesh Sardhara and Dr Rushabh Chheda informed, “These include headache, vomiting, refusal to eat or irritability, confusion, dizziness, slurred speech, sensitivity to light or sound, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus. Even change in sleep habits, behaviour or mood changes can be a underlying sign of mild TBI. Head injury is serious when there is loss of consciousness for minutes to hours, persistent vomiting, seizures, weakness or numbness in fingers or toes, loss of coordination, slurred speech and coma.”

They suggested the following guide for parents and caregivers –

  1. Prevention is better than cure- Make sure children wear safety equipment specific to their sport like use of helmet during skating/cricket.
  2. Make sure children use proper car seat, booster seat, and/or seatbelts every time they’re in a vehicle.
  3. Childproof your home.
  4. Preferably let them play at playgrounds that have soft ground surfaces like mulch instead of the ones that have dirt or concrete.
  5. Talk to your children about never hiding a head injury. If they do have a head injury while playing or doing an activity, they should immediately go to a parent, coach, or teacher.

The experts recommended the following dos and don’ts if the child suffers head injury –

  1. If a child suffers from a head injury, make sure they stop the activity they are doing including sports, even if the injury might seem mild. Visit the doctor, who will examine and decide if your child needs medical care, observation or investigations like CT scan or MRI.
  2. Do not move the child’s head and spine while shifting to hospital.
  3. If there is external bleeding, hold with firm pressure until it stops.
  4. If the child is not breathing, start CPR or ask trained personnel for help.

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