Simple tests to assess the severity of brain injury in children

If your child is too young to talk and cannot therefore explain what is wrong, it is difficult to assess the effect of that little “knock to the head”. It could well be benign. However, it could also be a lot more serious.

If you suspect your child has incurred some form of brain injury, the first 24 hours are the most critical. It is during this period that the first symptoms appear. If you can diagnose the problem during this time and get prompt medical attention, the chances are that you can limit the damage and prevent any permanent effect. A good free resource to get up to speed in the cause and effect of brain injuries is Consult that site for more detailed information.

So, how do you determine whether or not your child has suffered brain injury? There are three simple tests you can apply to children from about 9 months to about 3 years of age:

Test for Alertness. During waking hours, most children are alert and playful. So, if your child’s behavior is normal, he/she is probably OK. However, if the infant is lethargic during his normal “active time”, there could be a problem. This is especially true if he or she fails to respond to any stimulation.

Test for Inactivity. Irrespective of their age, children are always active during their waking hours. (Obviously this excludes infants!). If the child displays no desire to move or has “sluggish” actions, you will want to continue with the other tests to help determine whether or nor there is any damage.

Test for Vision. Hold your hand about 5 inches from your child’s face. Wave it back and forth. If your child follows the movement with his eye, you know that – at a minimum – he or she can see and the brain can react to an external stimulus. This is a positive sign.

It is important to note that these tests should be considered as guides only. Even if they all indicate that nothing is wrong, there could still be a potential problem which you should investigate. However, if the child fails even one of these simple tests, seek medical attention urgently.

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