Traumatic mechanisms of head injury in child abuse

Yoon S. Hahn, Anthony J. Raimondi, David G McLone, Yasuo Yamanouchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Child abuse is a complex sociophysical phenomenon in which a child may suffer physical and mental assault ranging from death to emotional deprivation. In this report, an effort is made to identify the pathogenetic mechanisms of head injury in child abuse and to describe the site of injury, incidence of head injury, and difficulties encountered in establishing a doctor-family relationship. During the years 1970 through 1979, 621 children were confirmed victims of child abuse and treated by the medical staff at the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Of these, there were 77 children (12%) who suffered associated head injuries ranging from cerebral concussion to irreversible brain damage and/or death. 85% of these head-injured children were under the age of 2 years. 62% were male and 38% female. In analyzing the type of injury which resulted in an associated head injury, we learned that 54% of all injuries were caused by direct blows to the head, face and other parts of the body, 35% were due to dropping, throwing or falling: Only 8% were caused by ‘shaking’. 55 injuries (48%) out of 115 trauma cases were thought to be caused by injury to head or face. 53 patients showed 113 external skin wounds such as ecchymoses of eyes, excoriations, bruises, contusion, hematoma, bums, etc. 46% of all external wounds were found over the head and face. This may probably indicate to us that a traumatic force causing injury to the brain is directed to the head and face. The traumatic mechanisms are analyzed and discussed to assess the behavioral derangement of the assault.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-241
Number of pages13
JournalPediatric neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983


  • Child abuse
  • Direct force
  • Mechanism of craniocerebral injuries
  • Whiplash injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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