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Spring 2004

Pay Close Attention to Mild Head Injuries in Children

Head injuries in children—however seemingly minor— require close attention. Parents may overlook their child’s head injury if the damage doesn’t seem severe enough to deserve medical attention. Unfortunately, even mild head injuries can result in more serious, long-term problems, says David Hovda, M.D., director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center.

Traumatic brain injury—also known as concussion—leads the causes of injury-related death and disability in children under the age of 15 in the United States. A strike to the head, a fall onto the head, or a sudden jerk of the head can all cause the brain to move rapidly within the skull and damage the delicate tissue of the brain, causing a concussion.

Symptoms of head trauma may not be obvious right away. Allow an injured child to rest and recover for 48 hours following an accident or injury while monitoring his or her mental state closely. “After a mild concussion, the brain is about two to three times more likely to sustain further injuries for some time afterward,” Dr. Hovda explains. “During this time, the brain must be protected from secondary injuries.”

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