Concussions and Children: Know the Signs

It started as a normal day shopping at the garden center. It might have been early in the season but in the case of gardening, the early bird gets the worm. The garden center was empty with the exception of a few displays that had the cold season plants on them.

We walk by one of the empty displays to head out when the next thing we know, we hear laughter and the pitter patter of a childs feet running on one of the displays. The display was nothing but a piece of wood held up by cinder blocks. The laughter soon stopped for the sound of wood falling on cement. As we look over to our son who was not 3 feet from either of us, we see him fall face first in the cement ground.

Immediately, the shreks come along with the sight of blood flowing from right above the left eye. This is where I regret every decision I made but am extremely proud of how my wife handled the situation. I stood there like a lump on the log (pardon the terrible pun). My wife on the other hand, jumped right in and lifted our crying son up and made the decision that we needed to go to the ER. On the other hand, I was thinking the entire time that he was OK… knowing deep down that he was not.

Once we made it to a room in the ER the doctor looks and determines that he needs stitches. In reality, the doctor let us make the decision to either glue it or stitches. I was OK with the glue but my wife wanted the stitches, which was the end decision.

As the doctor his doing his job stitching up our son, I am filling out paper work and pacing the room… making even the doctor nervous who ended up telling me to sit down that he didn’t need another patient to stitch up. Don’t ask me why I couldn’t stand there being in the same room as my son is screaming with as the doctor gives the numbing shots and stitching him up but I couldn’t.

Concussions - The Rookie Dad


Through out the day, our son started to get better. Showing no signs of any other issues going on. The following day, we head to church when he starts to complain about his stomach hurting. We ask him if he could make it through church because we had a luncheon that we were wanting to go to after word. As church ended and the luncheon started, he continued to complain about his stomach hurting. We thought he was just saying this because he didn’t want to be there and was bound and determined to do anything he could for us to leave.

An hour later the luncheon was over and we make it home and ask him to go to the bathroom because that would make his stomach feel better. As we stood watch over our wounded son try to do his business he quickly got up and vomited into the toilet. We thought he was truly sick and kept him inside for the rest of the day, even though hours later he was acting fine and wanted to go out and play with his friends.

It wasn’t until the following day that a co-worker told me our son was exhibiting signs of a concussion. A quick Google search ended up confirming what was said. A rush of guilt overwhelms me. I remember just standing there as my son fell and hit his head. Rushing him to the doctors office, and leaving without any information about concussions.

I’m not faulting the doctor for this… maybe to a point. It wasn’t his normal doctor and was a nurse practitioner who was just doing his job and was overwhelmed in the emergency room. But either way, on a head injury of any sort should have some information about concussions… specially in a 5 year old.

Head injuries at any age are hard to diagnose. I’m sure that the doctor looked at our son and realized that he was talking just fine and responding to all of his questions.

However, the symptoms of head injuries at the same time can make you think that something else is going on. Concussion or not, I wish I had known the following symptoms of a concussion.

Signs of Concussions and Children

  • Headache or a feeling of “pressure” in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, groggy or dazed
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in behavior

If your child suffers any sort of head injury get make sure that your doctor or pediatrician gives you the information that you need to keep your eyes out for anything that might point to a concussion. If anything, ask for the information yourself if your doctor forgets, that way you don’t experience the guilt I experienced that morning.

Brandon writes about his parenting experiences at The Rookie Dad along with his family travel at Traveling Dad


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