Concussions: Myths vs. Facts 10/14

By Sports Medicine & Performance Center staff
Posted: October 14, 2016 - 7:46 AM

Myth No. 1: Everyone with a concussion needs a CT scan or MRI right away.

Fact: While there is damage to the brain cells in a concussion, the damage is at a microscopic level and cannot be seen on MRI or CT scans. The concussed brain looks normal on these tests, even though it has been seriously injured.

Myth No. 2: You should not treat the headache from concussion with any medications because you might mask some symptoms.

Fact: Over the counter pain relievers, as ordered by the physician, are fine to use. At times prescription medicine may be needed.

Myth No. 3: Someone with a concussion should be woken up every 2-3 hours.

Fact: Drowsiness and fatigue are common symptoms of concussion. Getting plenty of sleep and allowing the brain to heal are necessary for recovery.

Myth No. 4: Children recover at the same rate as adults.

Fact: Children and teenagers actually recover more slowly due to their developing brain. They are also more prone to complications from concussion.

Myth No. 5: A concussion requires loss of consciousness.

Fact: Loss of consciousness is not the only indicator of concussion. Approximately only 10 percent of concussions involve loss of consciousness.

Myth No. 6: There are no long term effects of concussion.

Fact: A concussion that is not properly treated at the beginning can lead to post-concussion syndrome, with prolonged symptoms that affect memory, physical and emotional functioning for many months to years.

Myth No. 7: A concussion is not a brain injury.

Fact: A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, or mTBI. Since the mid-1990s, the use of the term "mTBI," rather than "mild closed head injury" has been utilized as the standard term by professionals and the Brain Injury Association of America.

Myth No. 8: Male and female athletes have the same chance of sustaining a concussion.

Fact: Female athletes are more prone to concussions than their male counterparts in studies. Possible explanations for this are that female athletes are more open to report concussion and there are gender differences in anatomy and physiology.

Myth No. 9: Athletes will acknowledge when they have sustained a concussion.

Fact: Some players are hesitant to report injury and want to return to sports.

Myth No. 10: An athlete needs to be hit on the head to sustain a concussion.

Fact: Concussions can occur with any movement or jostling of the head as in whiplash injuries (front to back) or rotational force (side to side).

Myth No. 11: Injury to the brain only occurs at the initial impact of the concussion.

Fact: Traumatic brain injury is an evolving process at the microscopic level of the brain. Chemical and metabolic changes occur for days, weeks to months after impact. That is why it is important to prevent any additional concussions and avoid a second impact syndrome during this time period.

Myth No. 12: Sports-related concussion impacts cannot be compared to motor vehicle accident impacts.

Fact: Sports related concussion studies indicate that these concussions are comparable to motor vehicle accident-related concussion impacts. For example, the impact speed of a professional boxer's punches was measured at 20 mph. The impact speed of a football player's tackle on a stationary player was measured at 25 mph. A soccer ball's impact speed was measured at 70 mph. These are significant amount of force exerted on the brain.

Myth No. 13: Helmets and equipment will prevent concussion if the newest model is used.

Fact: No equipment can completely protect from concussion. Concussion/mild traumatic brain injury can be caused by straight-on impact, rotation with impact, whip-lash without impact and sideways impact. Helmets, mouth guards and other protective devices may lower the risk or offer more information for the trainer and doctor, but no equipment eliminates the risk of concussion. Newer products with rubber padding and different materials may reduce the chance of concussion in one model (such as straight-on impact) but not change the risk in another model (such as rotation with impact).

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