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Assessing When a Fall is Serious Printer friendly format

By Caitlin Bootsma
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs

Editor’s Note: These recommendations come from Dr. Claire McCarthy and the Mayo Clinicgirl falling

Children fall all the time. They trip, slip off chairs or all while playing outside. Not every bump is cause for alarm. At the same time, injuries to the head are the top cause of death and disability in children above the age of 1 (New England Journal of Medicine). Therefore, as caregivers, it is important to recognize when a bump to the head might actually be a sign of a serious injury or concussion.

The number one sign that you should call a doctor is if a child loses consciousness after a fall. And, of course, if you are not the child’s parent, parents should be informed regardless of the severity of the fall.

Along with the loss of conciousness, you should also get medical assistance if a child:

  •       Has excessive bleeding
  •       Has a bump that is large and feels soft
  •       Continually vomits or if the vomiting is severe
  •       Will not wake up from a nap. It is normal to be somewhat groggy, but the child should be awakened easily.
  •       Is inconsolable because the pain is so severe
  •       Is dizzy or weak
  •       Has trouble walking, talking or seeing
  •       Has noticeable memory loss or mood changes 

If you are not noticing any of these issues, the child will probably just need some ice, a rest from activity and to be monitored. Be aware that some of these symptoms may take awhile after the fall to notice.

As parents and caregivers, we may not always be able to prevent injuries. But, with a little knowledge we can help a child receive the assistance that he or she may need.


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Have you ever had to deal with a child bumping their head?
No, but I bumped my own head as a child

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