Trauma to the head can cause different medical and surgical problems, ranging from mild to severe. Each year, childhood head injuries result in tens of thousands of emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the United States. Although 90 percent of all childhood head injuries are minor, thousands of children die and many more develop permanent disabilities each year from head trauma.
The most common causes of childhood head injuries in the United States are motor vehicle accidents, falls, assaults, bicycle accidents and trauma related to sports. In infants younger than 1 year old, most serious head injuries are related to child abuse.
Children often bump their heads accidentally, resulting in minor bumps, bruises, or cuts in the scalp, but no damage to the brain inside. Sometimes, more serious injuries happen.
Injuries to the head can cause a concussion. Concussions are graded on a scale of I to III, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
A grade I concussion is the mildest type, with confusion lasting 15 minutes or less after the head injury.
With a grade II concussion, the confusion and other symptoms last longer than 15 minutes.
A grade III concussion involves any loss of consciousness (passing out) and is the most severe.
In most cases of concussion, X-rays or brain scans do not show any damage. Concussions do not usually cause long-term brain damage, but repeated concussions (for example, during high-risk activities such as boxing or football) can be very dangerous, putting the child at risk of serious brain damage.
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