Memorial weekend was off to a good start, my son, age 3, and I decide to attend a nice gathering with friends and family at Alley Pond Park in Queens, NY. We were enjoying a nice day at the park, riding scooters, eating the inevitable chips and junk food that all kids love so much. Overall, we were having a great day.
My little boy was getting a bit bored towards the end of the day though, so we decided to head to the playground that was nearby.
The playground was a bit high and, in hind sight, tailored a bit toward older kids but I figured he would be ok. There was a bridge that he stumbled on, but again I figured he would be ok. About 5 minutes later my boy trips on the edge of the bridge and goes flying head first into a wooden step. I swore he broke his nose!
It took all I had to keep calm and pick him up and assess the damage. He had a black bruise in the middle of his forehead almost immediately and it was swelling up by the minute. I was applying ice, but at a park with limited supplies it seemed useless.
A peaceful fun day had now turned into a frantic one in a split second. I gathered all my stuff and rushed him to nearest hospital, as head injuries are a bit tricky. I kept talking to him and making sure he was conscious and coherent.
He was evaluated and observed for 4 hours and determined to be ok. He was a very brave boy. We are definitely counting our blessings. The nurse reassured me that the forehead is the ideal spot for a kid to get hit, as it is the hardest part and odds are the brain won’t be affected. Not that anyone wants their kid to have a head injury but if it did happen, that is where you would want it to occur.
The doctor advised me to keep checking for the main symptoms such as fainting, vomiting, dilated pupils, dizziness, disorientation, headache and mood changes. She told me to apply ice on the bump for 20 minutes every hour to hour and a half for the first 24hrs and then only heat. I was a bit surprised about the heat. I have never heard of applying heat to an injury before. Even in movies you see a piece of meat for a black eye or ice for injured athletes. So I chose to share this story in hopes of informing other parents who may not have heard about this and to make sure they know what symptoms to look for in case of a head injury.
Apparently, the swelling will go down with the ice but if you continue with the ice after 24 hours you will be stopping the blood flow the injury needs to heal and therefore causing a hard bump underneath the bruise. I forget the medical terminology for this bump. I believe it’s a hematoma, but apparently it will take a VERY LONG time go away unless you apply the heat early on. It may take years before you see a difference without applying the heat to increase blood flow.
This bump is not at all dangerous, and other than for cosmetic reasons, isn’t an issue but I figure no one wants their kid going around with a lump in the middle of their forehead if it can be prevented.
We were definitely lucky this time around and I will be a bit more conscious about the playgrounds he plays in. We learned the hard way that all playgrounds are not safe for toddlers. From now on I will choose playgrounds no more than 3 ft off the ground to make sure they are age appropriate.