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Ask the expert: How do I know if a bump on the head is serious?

Question: "My six-year-old son is always banging his head when he's out playing. How can I tell if the bump is serious and needs further attention?"


Neurologist and consultant to the Brain Injury Group, Professor Lindsay McLellan, says: "A brain injury can be sustained even if your child doesn't lose consciousness. In some cases, a child can continue acting normally for hours before they show any symptoms.

"If a child is knocked out it's pretty obvious they should go to hospital, but if they bump their head in a playground or while mucking about in the garden and don't lose consciousness but continue to feel unwell, it can be tricky to know whether they have a more serious injury.

"If they continue to experience one or more of these symptoms, seek medical advice: headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or disorientation, trouble speaking clearly, irritability and/or tearfulness, blurred vision/dislike of bright light, or extreme tiredness

"If one of more of these symptoms is severe, go straight to hospital, But if the symptoms are milder or come on more gradually you should see your GP.

"To minimise the risk of suffering a brain injury, children should wear a protective helmet when cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding or using a scooter. The helmet should be done up properly before moving off.

"They shouldn't dive head first into lakes, ponds or pools, should tell an adult if they hit their head, and shouldn't leave friends if they hit their head. They should also tell their friend's parents what happened, as their friend may not recall it."

PA Media