A concussion is brain damage induced by a blow to the head or body. Because a child’s developing brain is more vulnerable than an adult’s, parents and caregivers may want to be aware of concussion symptoms in toddlers.
According to a 2017 study of over 13,000 adolescents in the United States, nearly one-fifth reported having suffered a concussion at least once.
In this article, we will look at the warning symptoms of a Concussion in toddlers, as well as what to do if you think your child has a concussion.
What Are Head Injuries?
Children and teenagers are prone to head injuries. They can cause damage to the scalp, skull, brain, and blood vessels.
A head injury might be mild, such as a bump on the head, or serious, such as a concussion. Most seizures in children are mild and do not cause brain damage.
What is Concussion in toddlers?
Concussion in toddlers is a type of brain injury that occurs when the brain moves in its surrounding fluid due to a blow to the head or body.
The brain can twist or knock against the skull, affecting how a child thinks and acts for a short time.
TBI, or traumatic brain injury, is a mild form of Concussion in toddlers.
Signs and symptoms of Concussion in toddlers
A concussion may not be caused by a hard hit. The child does not lose consciousness in the majority of cases.
Concussion in toddlers symptoms isn’t always visible. They can be physical, such as a headache, but they can also show themselves in the child’s behaviour or feelings.
People should check for the following concussion warning symptoms in children:
- A feeling of being in a fog
- Vomiting or feeling ill
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Seeming irritable
- Sleeping more or fewer hours than usual
- Feeling down or depressed
- Feeling dizzy or having balance problems
- Unable to think clearly or concentrate
Concussion in toddlers symptoms may not always show immediately after impact. Some can appear hours or even days later. As a result, parents and caregivers must keep an eye on the child for some time after hitting their head.
Parents must watch for symptoms that the toddler or teen may not report because the child or teen may not be aware of their symptoms.
When checking for signs of Concussion in toddlers, people can ask questions like, “Does the child:
- Seem confused or dazed
- Finding it difficult to answer questions
- Have no memory of what happened before to or after the knock
- Move clumsily
- If injured while playing a sport, remember the score of the game
Concussion in toddlers
Babies and young children may be unable to tell what is wrong. In addition to the signs listed above, people should keep an eye out for a young child who:
- Has inability or unwillingness to nurse or eat
- Is crying and refusing to be comforted
- Has a loss of interest in toys
- Has a loss of new skills, such as toilet training
When to Consult a Doctor
What happens if your child falls on their head or is otherwise injured? How can you know when they need to see a doctor?
The most important thing you can do is keep a close eye on your toddler. Ask the following issues:
- Is my child’s behavior normal?
- Are they acting drowsier than normal?
- Has their behavior changed?
Your child is most likely fine if he or she is awake, active, and does not seem to be acting any differently after a mild head injury.
Of course, having your child checked out is always a good idea. A small bump on the head with no symptoms may not need a visit to the hospital.
If your child is showing signs of a concussion, you should seek medical help right away, especially if they:
- Are vomiting
- Are difficult to awake
- Have a seizure
If your child is sleepy after a head injury, it’s okay to let them nap, but keep an eye on them after they wake up.
While no test can definitively confirm a concussion in toddlers, a CT or MRI may be used to get an image of the brain if the doctor suspects bleeding.
If your child’s pupils (the small black spots in the eyes) are unequal or larger than normal after a head injury, this could indicate swelling around the brain and is a medical emergency.
Treatments of Concussion in toddlers
Rest is the primary treatment for Concussion in toddlers. Rest helps in the healing of the brain.
For children who have suffered a concussion, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Child Neurology Foundation, among others, suggest rest.
What can you do at home?
It’s important what parents do at home to help a child recover from a concussion.
- Make sure the child gets enough physical rest and avoids sports or physical exercise.
- Allow the child to rest mentally as well. They should avoid doing anything that requires a lot of focus, such as schoolwork.
- Limit their time spent in front of a screen, such as video games or television.
After a concussion, many children have trouble sleeping. They may sleep more or less than usual or have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night. Caregivers can help by doing the following:
- Removing all forms of distraction from the bedroom
- Promoting regular sleep patterns, with no sleepovers or late nights
Headaches are the most common side effect of a concussion. Simple analgesics can help, but patients should consult their doctor first.
How can a child’s school help?
The child’s school can help by:
- Providing for rest breaks during or between classes
- Allowing for a shorter school day
- Giving more time available for homework and assignments
- Postponing exams
- Providing a quiet location if a child is a noise-sensitive
After a few days of rest, the toddler can gradually continue their regular things. They should not usually return to sports or intense physical activity until they have no symptoms at rest.
Dangers of another concussion
Many states have concussion laws that prevent people from returning to sports until they have received medical clearance from their doctors.
During the time after a concussion, children are more likely to experience another brain injury.
During childhood and adolescence, the brain is more sensitive. During this time, a second concussion is far more dangerous than the first. During recovery, chemical changes in the brain make it more sensitive to stress or another injury.
How long would it take my child to recover?
Most children will feel better in a couple of weeks, according to the CDC. Symptoms in some toddlers can last for months or even years.
According to a 2014 study, nearly a quarter of children still complained of headaches one month after injury. A fifth of those polled reported tiredness, and nearly 20% said it took them longer to think than it did before their injury.
People should consult a doctor if their child’s symptoms worsen or do not go away. If a toddler participates in sports, their doctor should be consulted to help develop a safe return to play plan.
Some children may develop post-concussive syndrome, which causes their symptoms to linger. This is especially true for children who have had many concussions.
The bottom line
It’s important to prevent another concussion or head injury if your child has already suffered one. Repeated concussions might result in lifelong brain damage.
If your child shows any symptoms of regression after a concussion, such as grogginess, confusion, or extreme mood swings, you should book an appointment with a doctor.