Head and Spine Trauma

Also known as: head and spine injuries, spinal cord injuries, spinal injuries, brain and spine trauma, head and neck injuries

What is head and spine trauma?

Head and spine trauma refer to injuries or accidents that affect an individual’s brain and/or spinal cord. Concussion of the brain is a common occurrence in children especially while playing contact sports. This can be very disabling. Such children may be seen in the Concussion Clinic. Other traumatic brain injuries include intracranial blood clots, diffuse brain injury and fractures. These patients are best managed in a center capable of taking care of sick children and may be need to be admitted to the intensive care unit. Spinal injuries are also common and their treatment will need intensive management in the ICU and surgical stabilization in some cases.

What causes head and spine trauma?

In small babies injury can result from violent shaking or jolting of the head. In older children head and spine trauma is typically caused by accidents due to falls, vehicle crashes, sports or other causes.

What are the symptoms of head and spine trauma?

Symptoms of head and spine trauma will vary widely depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Concerning symptoms (which may occur soon after the injury or hours later) include, confusion, loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, loss of movement or sensation, trouble with balance or walking, no bowel or bladder control or pain or pressure in the back, neck or head.

What are head and spine trauma care options?

Individuals who have experienced head and/or spine trauma should seek immediate medical care. In some cases, medications, surgery or stabilization techniques can help with healing. If the damage is severe, doctors can help with recovery and training to live with the disabilities that result from the injury.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 5/23/2018 9:36:46 AM

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2nd Annual Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Sports Health Symposium

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This course will give the athletic trainer and physical therapist an overview of athletic development models and orthopedic/rehabilitative management of several conditions that influence athletic performance.

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From the Newsdesk

Get your FREE Water Watcher Card here!
06/29/2018 — Prevent drowning and accidents when children are near water by assigning a responsible adult to wear a Water Watcher Badge. The badge wearer takes responsibility to supervise the children until hading off to the next water watcher. Available at selected urgent care centers while supplies last.
Daniella Celebrates her Ninth Birthday by Advocating for Children’s Health
06/26/2018 — On this very same day nine years ago, Daniella Alvarez was diagnosed Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT), a rare and aggressive type of brain cancer. The news came on June 26, 2009, her second birthday. Daniella endured years of brain surgeries, aggressive chemotherapies, radiation, imaging scans, multiple visits to intensive care at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. She is now cancer free thanks to a pediatric clinical trial made possible through research funding.


Reshma Naidoo, PhD of Nicklaus Children's Hospital is a pediatric neuropsychologist and neurorehabilitation speacialits with the Brain Institute.