Football season has ended, but the conversation regarding the dangers of concussion injuries in sports continues. Heightened awareness of the issue is vital for parents and adults to understand, yet there are persistent misconceptions regarding these severe and often debilitating injuries.
About 128 people of every 100,000 people in the United States sustain concussions each year. These can be a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or something that appears more serious. Either way, the injured should seek medical guidance any time they “have their bell rung,” when they hit their head, when they get knocked out due to blunt force or experience bodily trauma in a car accident.
It is also important to understand that symptoms of a concussion may appear days or weeks after the initial event.
7 concussion myths
These myths can help victims and loved ones better understand the nature of concussions.
- You are only injured if you lose consciousness: A loss of consciousness only occurs in a minority of concussions. There are many other indicators, such as sensitivity to light, nausea, headaches, fatigue, or other symptoms.
- Concussions only result from a blow to the head: A blow to the neck or upper chest can cause a whiplash effect that can lead to a concussion. Other sudden movements can as well.
- A CT scan or MRI is necessary after the incident: These usually do not diagnose a concussion. Physicians will often rely on a neurological exam involving vision, memory, balance, concentration, reflexes, and other tests.
- You need to wake concussion victims up every 20 minutes: Sleep is essential to recovery, so caregivers should only wake the injured every two or three hours until a doctor can evaluate them. Parents or caregivers should ask the injured a few simple questions and look for changes in behavior.
- Avoid medication and pain remedies before diagnosis: Over the counter pain relievers like Tylenol can be used to treat the pain, but aspirin, ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories should not be used. Some prescription medications can even help if prescribed by a doctor.
- The injury occurs at the time of impact: Brain changes and damage can take place days, weeks or months after the initial event. In moderate or severe cases of TBI, imbalances in the production of hormones required by the brain to operate properly can trigger symptoms.
- The elderly are more susceptible to concussions: Children are more likely to suffer TBI and their symptoms can be more severe and last longer.
Take concussions seriously
Possible concussion and TBI victims should be carefully monitored to determine the extent of the injuries. This includes seeing a doctor and generally documenting any symptoms that impact the victim. Not only can this help with the recovery, but it can also help build a case if there is negligence by someone else who caused the injuries.