Most children who head bang—rhythmic movement of the head against a solid object, marked by compulsive repetitiveness 1 —usually are normal, healthy, well-cared-for children, in whom no cause for this activity can be determined. More common in boys than in girls, childhood head banging usually starts when the child is age 18 months, but he she should grow out of it by age 4. Leung and colleagues 1 propose that head banging is an integral part of normal development; a tension-releasing maneuver; an attention-seeking device; and a form of pain relief in response to acute illnesses. Fatigue, hunger, teething, or discomfort from a wet diaper can increase the tendency to head bang. Head banging generally occurs before sleep. The child will repeatedly bang his head—usually the frontal-parietal region—against a pillow, headboard, or railing of a crib 60 to 80 times per minute. While head banging, the child does not seem to experience pain or discomfort, but may appear relaxed or happy. Although this habit appears alarming calluses, bruises, abrasions, and contusions may occur—especially in children with mental retardation 1,2 , there rarely is significant head damage.
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These head injuries can appear way worse -- or much more harmless -- than they are. So take our crash course in what to look for the next time your child hurts herself. I was less than two steps ahead of my 3-year-old daughter, Jillian, when her foot slipped off our front stairs. Within the seconds it took to grab her off the cement walkway, a nasty goose egg had started to form, and blood was gushing from a scrape above her eye. The result -- a shiny black eye, an unsightly gash, and an odd-shaped lump -- remained for weeks, but the doctor's prognosis was good: Jillian, like most kids who have that sort of accident, would be fine. If it feels like your child is constantly taking a tumble, you're probably right. Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in kids of all ages, and they're the number-one cause of head injuries in those under age 9, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. Children under 4 are the most frequent victims of head injuries, and young athletes get mild-to-serious concussions on a regular basis. It's not known how likely it is that a child who hits her head will have a concussion, partly because there's no agreement among experts on the definition of the term in children.
A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury or mild TBI. It happens when a blow to the head or an injury makes the head move back and forth with a lot of force. This causes chemical changes in the brain and, sometimes, damage to the brain cells.
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