Mild to Moderate Head Injuries

After a mild or moderate head injury, most children will not have problems beyond a cut, bruise, or swelling on the scalp. Some children also have headaches that you can treat with acetaminophen (Tylenol).

However, since every child and injury is different, it is a good idea to watch your child for unexpected changes for several days following an injury. While there is nothing wrong with awakening your child periodically through the night for reassurance, it is not necessary unless the doctor instructs you to.

Activity restrictions after a head injury will vary. Check with your child's doctor.

If you notice any of the following, it might indicate more serious problems and you should get immediate medical attention. Contact your child's doctor or go to the nearest emergency department or urgent care:

Changes in Behavior

  • Drowsy and hard to wake up
  • Does not recognize familiar people
  • Unable to be comforted
  • Confused speech
  • Does not know where he/she is
  • Not acting like usual self

Physical Changes

  • Persistent vomiting
  • Weakness or stumbling
  • Persistent severe headache
  • Seizures
  • Complains of double vision
  • Blood or clear fluid from ears or nose 

Although the following symptoms are rare, they may occur for weeks or months after a head injury. If your child has any of these problems and it interferes with family, friends or school, contact your child's doctor.

Physical Problems

  • Fatigue, tired all the time
  • Ongoing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to noise and lights
  • Sleep disturbances (can't sleep, nightmares)

Learning and Thinking Problems

  • Poor memory
  • Trouble following directions
  • Slow thinking
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor judgment
  • Falling behind in school

Changes in Usual Behavior

  • Easily frustrated
  • Easily upset or angered
  • Lack of interest or motivation
  • Moodiness
  • Impatience
  • Bolder than usual
  • Explosive temper
  • Does not tolerate daily routine

Last Updated 07/2014