Traumatic Brain Injury in Children

Concussion in Children

Concussion isn’t an injury that solely affects adults. It can also occur in babies, toddlers, children and teens, and can be harmful to a child’s developing brain. Children are not simply small adults, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children must be treated with special care.

Young children regularly knock their heads as they are learning to navigate the world – crawling, walking and becoming coordinated all have their challenges. The main cause of concussions to children are falls – be it falling off the bed, falling over as they are learning to stand and walk, or as they grow, falling from a bike, play equipment, or climbing frame.

In older children and teens, while falls are still a cause of mild TBI or concussion, sport becomes a contributor. Sport can be a major cause of concussion in older children and teens as they take an interest in sports including AFL, football, hockey and gymnastics and more.

The important thing to remember is that any bump or knock to the head that results in changes to the way someone thinks, moves or feels should be considered a TBI.

The symptoms children may experience will be similar to that of adults, however, children may not be able to express how they are feeling as well as an adult would so parents should watch out for changes such as:

  • Increased fatigue
  • Imbalance
  • Vomiting
  • Altered levels of alertness
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to noise and / or light
  • Heightened emotions
  • Appearing dazed or shocked
  • Loss of consciousness.

View the full list of concussion symptoms here.

Babies and toddlers will not be able to communicate their symptoms so parents should watch for:

  • Disinterest in nursing or feeding
  • More or less sleepy than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Altered levels of alertness.

Disclaimer: If you think your child has suffered a TBI it’s important to have them seen by a medical professional as soon as possible. This website does not offer individual medical advice.

To further help you, we have a range of children’s TBI fact sheets here.

References and Further Reading