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Head Injuries and Long-Term Problems

Posted Feb 20 2010 6:46pm

The online HealthDay reporter, Steven Reinberg, reported on an interesting study that Dr.Carol DeMatteo of Ontario, Canada did on head injuries in children. He notes that the doctor puts the blame on parents for not taking head injuries, particularly concussions, seriously. I find this to be a strange position for a physician to take. I don't believe any parent would not take a head injury or concussion seriously if, and this is a big if, the physicians who saw the child clearly stressed the possible long-term effects of a head injury or concussion.

I would not place the blame on parents, but instead the blame should be placed on any physician who does not tell parents what to watch for after a child's head injury, when to call him or her, and also insist on  frequent and long-term follow-ups. When I practiced general pediatrics, I had printed sheets for the parents that went home with them after an office visit if there was even the slightest chance of a head injury. Vomiting, headache, and loss of consciousness are all signs that should be taken seriously by both parents and physicians. Unfortunately, emergency room physicians may have little or no pediatric training. Thus, if the child's doctor does not see a child after a head injury but refers him or her to the emergency room,  the parents may have to become quite aggressive and either seek a second opinion or insist that their child be seen by a pediatric neurosurgeon or neurologist if the ER doctor does not seem concerned or knowledgable.

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