Wed. March 10, 2021

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Myth Busters: Concussions

2021 Brain Injury Awareness Month

We want to set the record straight on some of the most common misconceptions about concussions.

Myth #1: You Lose Consciousness When You Sustain A Concussion
Only 10% of individuals who sustain a concussion lose consciousness. Research shows that loss of consciousness does not indicate the severity of a concussion, nor does it affect the long-term recovery and prognosis.

Myth #2: Concussions Happen From Hits To The Head
While sustaining a hard hit or blow to the head is probably the most common means of sustaining a concussion, you can actually get a concussion without getting hit in the head. A concussion can result with a strike or impact that causes your brain to slam against your skull. For example, car accidents, falls, and collisions without a direct blow to the head can jostle the brain and cause a concussion.

Myth #3: Following A Concussion You Have To Stay Awake
In reality, sleep is good and necessary to help the brain recover! Sleeping for a full eight hours is more beneficial for the individual than waking them every hour to ask “Are you okay?” It is safe to sleep following a concussion if you do not exhibit the following symptoms: 

Myth #4: You Can Return To Play As Soon As You Feel Better
Concussions symptoms do not always appear immediately following a traumatic event and may take as long as a week to appear. To allow for full cognitive healing, you should be medically cleared to return to play or strenuous activity. Returning to play too early may cause an increase in symptoms, such as post-traumatic headaches, or even second impact syndrome; if you suffer a concussion before fully healing from the first.

Myth #5: Avoid Physical Activity Following A Concussion
We have learned that avoiding physical activity may actually make individuals worse in their long-term recovery. The current guidelines promote symptom limited activity within the first 24 to 48 hours. Light activity that does not acerbate symptoms is recommended.

Myth #6: Don’t Look At Screens
Don’t read a book. Don’t watch TV. Sit in complete darkness. These are all myths! If these activities increase symptoms, you should avoid them in the very early stages of a concussion. New studies show that individuals who had five days of strict rest did worse than patients who rested for two days and gradually increased their activity.

Myth #7: A Concussion Is A Bruise To The Brain
A bruise to the brain or cerebral contusion is the bleeding on the brain due to localized trauma. A concussion refers to more widespread brain trauma and new research shows that it is a result of the axons stretching quickly and injures the white matter deep in the brain. A concussion is NOT a more severe form of a contusion.

Myth #8: You Can Diagnose A Concussion With MRI Or CT Scan
About 95% of concussions will show no findings on imaging. A concussion is a functional injury and is not visible. MRIs and CT scans will show structural damage to the brain.

Myth #9: You Can Treat A Concussion With Medication
There is no evidence supporting that medications will successfully treat a concussion. In fact, medications often come with side effects that are similar to the symptoms of a concussion. Other therapies like a hyperbaric chamber or laser therapy simply don’t have evidence to suggest these help heal a concussion.

Myth #10: There Is No Treatment For A Concussion
This is wrong! There are effective treatment protocols for concussions, including:

  • Rehabilitation (visual, ocular, motor)
  • Exercise
  • Treatment of the neck (passive and active treatment of the neck)
  • Movement patterns and cervical joint reposition area testing
  • Diet
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

For more information or to schedule with one of Pivot’s trained concussions specialists, contact us!