Toddler Concussions 

Every parent should know the signs and symptoms of a concussion. The real test of your parenting skills is knowing what to look for in a toddler or infant. Alaina and myself had always been aware of the signs. We live in the age of Google : Where everything you could ever want to know (and lots of stuff you don’t) is at the tips of your fingers. So, naturally we’ve searched and learned about the signs of a concussion in various states of growth for our children and their…well…future growth.
The problem with having everything at your finger tips is that sometimes the information can be a bit overwhelming. For example: go to search for concussion signs and end up finding blogs about wether or not you should take you’re child to a Dr. while they lay bleeding from their head in your arms. The answer is yes. Or maybe at least call the triage nurse. Probably the worst thing you can do is go to a forum and ask if you should take them in. Rule of thumb, if you’re asking strangers from around the world if you should take you child to the dr…just take them to be doctor. If you’re reading this right now because Google dropped you here because of key words and all you were looking for is a home remedy to stop an appendix from bursting, just GO TO THE DOCTOR!

So why am I talking about concussions?

The other day I was trying to get myself and the kids ready to go to the lake. I had timed everything right so that we could leave the house and they would pass out in the car for the 30 minute ride. I had one last thing to get before we were about to leave. I ran upstairs to get the phone charger and I heard Jude walking up the stairs as I was pulling the cord from the outlet. Walking is a relative term. When it comes to the stairs Jude kind of crawls up them and sounds like 6 drunks clambering through a hall.

“Jude I’m coming right down.” When he’s almost at the top of the stairs, me saying anything doesn’t help. I turned just in time to see my 2 year old get to the top of the stairs and then start to lose his balance. In slow motion I saw him try to catch the banister and fail. His body lurched backwards and his face filled with pure terror.

“Ooooooooooooh nooooooo.” I shouted.

I ran across the room.

In classic movie mode, my hand missed his by an inch. A whelp was all he let out as he began tumbling down the flight of 13 steps as I ran after him yelling “No! No! No! No!” A toddler body is truly an amazing thing. If I fell down stairs backwards I would collapse and slide down them, probably breaking a bone or 2. Two weeks ago I missed the last three steps and ripped a ligament in my foot. I can’t imagine falling from the top….backwards. Jude though….made it look, cool? Comical? Somewhere in between. Now at the time I did not think it was funny or amazing, I was scared shitless. Looking back though: his body turned in mid air like a cat and his extremities stretched to their full potential. So he didn’t end up tumbling down backward, he literally rolled down the stairs on his side, bouncing off every other step or so. The best way to describe it is, take a sack of potatoes and push it down the stairs.

As he rolled down the stairs, Jude was completely silent. Only after the sickening “splat” sound that was made when he landed face first on the bottom, did he start to cry. And cry he did. He wasn’t on the floor for even a millisecond when I scooped him up in my arms and held him close.

He was sobbing, I was shaking, his sister was getting in the cat food, the house was in complete chaos. Before calming him down completely I had to take a damage examination. I sat him on the table and had him move all his arms and legs, looked for bruising or odd bumps. Knowing that he hit his head at least once, but not more than 13 times, I called the triage nurse at our doctors office to see what they would say. I’m not the type of person to call the dr. at every little thing. I am very confident in my parenting skills. This was serious though.

If you’re ever stressed out. Call a triage nurse. I would even recommend this for everyday stress. They are some of the most calming people I have ever talked to on the phone. After asking me about the possibility of broken bones, she went through a concussion check list with me:

  • Did he pass out?
    • no
  • Did he cry as soon as he landed?
    • yes
  • Were you able to calm him down?
    • yes
  • Does he seem dazed?
    • no
  • Is he balanced while walking?
    • as far as I can tell
  • Are his pupils reacting normally to light changes?
    • yes
  • Does he have any large bumps on his head?
    • no
  • Is he vomiting?
    • no

The last thing I had to do was make sure I could rouse him from a nap. Normally, I would never rouse him from a nap. When Jude naps, there’s one less body I have to worry about destroying something. When they both nap: Hell Yeah! That’s when daddy gets his Call of Duty fix. So the only reason I would wake either of them up is for their safety. Because it was so close to nap time anyway, I put Margot in her crib while Jude and I cuddled on the couch. He was still fairly weepy but as he watched Elmo talk to his goldfish somewhere off in the prerecorded history that is television, he drifted off into a slumber I was very jealous of. 

Clock set, 30 min.

The good thing is that after 30 minutes of me worrying he would have a concussion and then serious brain damage eventually leading to an untimely death in which the rest of my days are spent resenting myself for not watching him at fingers length every minute of every day…after 30 minutes I did manage to wake him up. He didn’t look disoriented or dizzy, he did however manage to make the most evil face I’ve ever seen. Fair enough, he was fine and I let him go back to bed. 

One thing you as a reader should know is that sometimes signs don’t show up right away. It can take up to 2 days after the accident for some signs. And while I knew he was initially “ok”, both my wife and myself watched him carefully, just to make sure. 

Another symptom of falling down the stairs is the fact that as a young child he could be afraid of them. I know that I’m still a little shaken watching him go up and down them. He manages the steps on his own for the most part and asks for help when he needs it. 

A sick part of me worried that he would try to use the stairs as a way to get attention. I don’t remember being 2 but I do know that in or household, everybody could use a little attention from everybody else once in awhile.  That’s what happens in a world with both working parents and two kids under the age of 3. Also, he managed to get a special dinner that night. Falling down a flight of stairs means chicken nuggets from McDonald’s for dinner…I tried to use this excuse and my wife left me lying and bleeding.

Oh well. We can’t win them all…but we can be aware of head trauma.



2 thoughts on “Toddler Concussions 

  1. Pingback: A Blogger’s Guide to Best Practices | LizMarsha

  2. Pingback: Growing Pains – The Awkward Father

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