Pediatric Head Trauma: 4 Things To Know

March 15, 2023

Traumatic brain injury is scary for anyone, and can be particularly scary for children. Head trauma is something that affects your brain cells in a way that can temporarily change how your mind works. In very severe cases, it could even lead to bleeding, bruising, or other physical damage to the brain. Pediatric head trauma is a beast of its own, as a child’s brain doesn’t fully develop until they are in their 20s. Additionally, traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents one of the leading causes of death and disability in children between 1 and 18 years of age.

Pediatric Head Trauma

Head trauma in children is most commonly caused by falls, contact sports, and car accidents that may cause physical damage to the brain. It is important to remember that children’s brains are still developing until they reach early adulthood, so even low levels of impact can cause significant trauma. Holly Springs Pediatrics has compiled a list of must-know facts about pediatric head trauma. 

Types Of Head Trauma 

Children are prone to bumping their heads every once and a while. Outside of minor head injuries such as a mild bump, bruise, or cut, there are three main types of head trauma, including


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a concussion as a traumatic brain injury that causes the brain and head to move rapidly back and forth. This aggressive movement can cause chemical changes in the brain, and may sometimes stretch or damage brain cells. 

Contusion (Intracerebral Hematoma)

A contusion is a bruise to the brain itself, which can cause bleeding and swelling inside the brain around the area that experienced trauma. This type of head trauma can cause skull fractures or blood clots.  

Skull Fracture

There are several types of skull fractures, all dealing with a break in the skull bone. The four major types of skull fractures include linear skull fractures, depressed skull fractures, diastatic skull fractures, and basilar skull fractures. 

Symptoms Of Head Trauma

The symptoms of head trauma can be different depending on the child and how severe the injury is. In mild cases of head trauma, symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Swollen area from a bump or bruise
  • Irritability or abnormal behavior
  • Confusion, lightheadedness, or dizziness
  • Difficulty with memory or concentration
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Lethargy or changes in sleep patterns

In more severe cases of head trauma, your child may experience any of the above symptoms with the addition of:

  • Repeated nausea and vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Experience visual disturbances
  • Trouble walking or balancing
  • Sweating or pale skin color
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • A loss of consciousness

If your child experiences any symptoms indicating a moderate to severe head injury after getting hit in the head, you should call an ambulance or take them to the nearest doctor or emergency room immediately.

Diagnosis Of Head Trauma

Your doctor may use a physical exam and diagnostic tests to diagnose a head injury. During the exam, the doctor obtains an understanding of how the injury occurred along with a complete medical history of the child. Diagnostic tests that are used to diagnose head trauma in children may include blood tests, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography scan (CT scan), or electroencephalogram (EEG). 

With important changes happening in your child’s brain during development, knowing the different types of pediatric head trauma is essential. Holly Springs Pediatrics is committed to providing quality care to your kids at all times. Do you have more questions about head trauma in children? Call our Holly Springs, NC pediatric office at (919) 249-4700 to schedule an appointment or talk to a staff member.