In most cases of mild childhood head injuries, parents call the doctor's office first to determine whether their child needs to be evaluated in person. If you contact your child's doctor about a head injury, the doctor will want to know:
How and when your child hurt his head - If your child has fallen, the doctor will want to know the height of the fall and the surface on which he or she landed.
A physical description of your child's head injury - Is there bruising, swelling, a dent in the skull, discoloration around the eyes or behind the ear, fluid leaking from the nose, or bleeding from the ear?
Your child's immediate reaction to the injury, especially whether your child is aware of everything around him or has any loss of memory
Any symptoms that occurred since the injury, such as vomiting, headache, confusion, sleepiness or seizures (convulsions)
The location of any swelling or bruising on other parts of the body besides the head
Based on your answers to these questions, the doctor may decide that no further medical evaluation is necessary. If this is the case, the doctor will give you detailed instructions about symptoms to watch for at home and what to do if your child's condition changes.
If your doctor tells you to bring your child to the office or to go to an emergency room immediately, you will be asked the same questions there. Emergency room personnel also will want to know about any medications your child is taking and his or her medical history, including any prior head trauma or brain (neurological) problems, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy or developmental disabilities. These questions will be followed by a thorough physical and neurological examination. If the results of these exams are normal, no further tests may be necessary. However, the doctor may decide to monitor your child's condition for several hours in the emergency room. After that time, the doctor may send you home with instructions about specific signs and symptoms to watch for during the next 24 to 48 hours.