Your son just crashed into the sidewalk while skateboarding, knocking his head… or maybe you bashed your head into an open cabinet door. Getting whacked in the head isn't fun, but it happens, and most of the time, a little ice and a bit of rubbing will do the trick. But how do you know if your noggin—or someone else's—needs more serious attention?
It is estimated that 2 million people will sustain a head injury this year. Of these, half a million will require hospitalization. Learning how to distinguish the serious head injuries from the less-so can save lives. 


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There are two types of head trauma: closed and penetrating. A penetrating head wound occurs when an object breaks through the skull and enters the brain cavity, making the potential for serious injury quite clear. However, closed head trauma, because of its concealed nature, is more likely to be disregarded.

A closed head injury occurs when the brain hits the skull with such force the nerves may be affected. While this type of head injury, a concussion, is generally not serious, it can cause memory loss or longer-term problems. Closed head injuries are most worrisome when there is a loss of consciousness, no matter how brief. And loss of consciousness may occur hours after the initial injury.

If someone does suffer from a significant blow to the head, especially if there was loss of consciousness, it is important to monitor his or her condition for 24 hours after the initial event. This includes waking them up every three or four hours during the night to ask them simple questions about their name or the current date. Watch out for the following:

- Confusion
- Memory loss
- Nausea or vomiting (Note: Children may sometimes vomit immediately following an injury, this is normal. But if the vomiting continues, seek medical attention)
- Partial paralysis
- Sensory loss
- Neck pain
- Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Unusual headache
- Bruising around the eyes or behind the ears
- Fluid coming from ears or nose

If any of these symptoms appear, be sure to seek medical care immediately. More importantly, take precautions to avoid these types of accidents: wear a well-fitted helmet when biking, boarding or skating and during any contact sport; always wear a seatbelt and be sure that children are in proper restraints in the car; and be cautious around areas that may be slippery, such as the pool or shower.