A to Z: Head Injury
Also called: Head Trauma
A head injury is any physical harm to the scalp, skull, or brain.
More to Know
Head injuries are very common and usually not serious. They can be external or internal:
- External head injuries are injuries to the scalp. These injuries often look serious because the scalp has many blood vessels that can bleed, sometimes causing a big lump (or "goose egg") that can take days or weeks to disappear. Applying an ice pack or instant cold pack (wrapped in a washcloth or towel) to the injured area for up to 20 minutes every 3-4 hours for the first 1-2 days can help ease swelling.
- Internal head injuries may involve the skull, blood vessels inside the skull, or the brain itself.
- A concussion is a type of internal head injury. In a concussion, a person temporarily loses brain function. Someone may have a concussion even when there's no obvious wound or unconsciousness. After a concussion, the brain needs time to heal. Recovery time will depend on how long the symptoms last. It's very important to wait until all symptoms have ended before resuming normal activities.
Keep in Mind
Safety precautions can prevent head injuries. Kids and adults should wear helmets, safety gear, and seatbelts whenever appropriate.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|Brain Injury Association The mission of this group is to create a better future through brain injury prevention, research, education, and advocacy. Call: (800) 444-6443|
|National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) The website of NCIPC contains a variety of injury prevention information.|
|National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome This website provides national information, support, and referral services on shaken baby syndrome.|
|American Sports Medicine Institute The mission of ASMI is to improve the understanding, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries through research and education.|
|Concussions The term concussion conjures up the image of a child knocked unconscious while playing sports. But concussions can happen with any head injury, often without any loss of consciousness.|
|First Aid: Head Injuries Learn about the different types of head injuries, and find out what to do if your child is seriously injuried.|
|CAT Scan: Head A head CAT scan is a painless test that uses a special X-ray machine to take pictures of a patient's brain, skull, and sinuses, as well as blood vessels in the head. It might be done to check for any number of conditions.|
|Brain and Nervous System The brain controls everything we do, and is often likened to the central computer within a vast, complicated communication network, working at lightning speed.|
|Head Injuries Head injuries fall into two categories: external and internal. Learn more about both kinds, how to prevent them, and what to do if your child is injured.|
|Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome) Abusive head trauma (AHT) is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. AHT results from injuries caused by someone vigorously shaking an infant.|
|A to Z: Contusion (Bruise), Face, Scalp, & Neck Learn about contusions (bruises) of the face, scalp, and neck.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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