Is your child’s brain injury a concussion or cerebral contusion?

A traumatic brain injury is an injury that occurs after a blow to the head or when an object penetrates the skull. While individuals of any age may suffer a TBI, normal childhood activities may make children increasingly vulnerable to this type of injury.

According to one study, common items, such as bicycles, footballs and floors, play a role in 72% of nonfatal pediatric TBIs. While concussions are a familiar type of TBI, your child’s brain injury may be a cerebral contusion. As a parent, you may want to know the difference.

Cerebral contusions

A cerebral contusion is the accumulation of blood in the brain. Essentially a bruise, a cerebral contusion is likely to affect only an isolated part of the brain. Even though your child may have no symptoms, the following may be evidence of a cerebral contusion:

  • Attention or concentration difficulties
  • Memory lapses
  • Speaking challenges
  • Numbness or tingling

While some cerebral contusions resolve on their own without medical intervention, others may be medical emergencies. After all, if too much blood accumulates in the brain, associated pressure may contribute to additional brain damage.

Pediatric concussions

Unlike a contusion, which tends to be a localized brain injury, concussions typically affect large sections of the brain. After a blow to the head, a concussion changes the way the brain functions chemically. While not an exhaustive list, these symptoms may be signs of a concussion:

Ultimately, unless you have extensive training in neurological medicine, you may not be able to differentiate between a concussion and a cerebral contusion. Because both are potentially life-threatening TBIs, you may want to ask an experienced pediatrician or emergency room physician to examine your son or daughter after any blow to the head.