Concussions can be mild, misunderstood, and even misdiagnosed altogether. With the commonality we see today in concussions among athletes, there’s a lot of buzz among players and non-athletes alike that may or may not be true about concussions and concussion recovery. Here are seven myths, and their factual counterparts, about concussion recovery.
1. MYTH: If you didn’t pass out you don’t have a concussion.
FACT: One of the telling signs of a concussion and the grade of severity was loss of consciousness. However today there are people who have experienced a range of symptoms and signs that are just as important in identifying a concussion as passing out. Healthcare experts suggest injuries where the individual loses consciousness are actually not any more severe than those that don’t. However, the less dramatic symptoms can lead to misdiagnosing someone who actually may have a concussion.
2. MYTH: If your cat scan is clear, you’re in the clear.
FACT: Concussion damage actually occurs on the cellular level, according to Mark Lovell, Ph.D. Thus, a CAT scan will not pick up the changes that occur within the cells. It will, however, pick up any swelling or bleeding, so it’s a good idea not to skip out on it.
3. MYTH: Concussions can cause headaches years after.
FACT: This may not be the case for people who have experienced multiple concussions, but doctors believe there is no scientific evidence that people who have had a concussion are more disposed to concussions than other people. So if you’re experiencing a lot of headaches and you’ve had a concussion in the past, it may be caused by something else you might want to consider.
4. MYTH: When your symptoms dwindle, you’re safe to play sports.
FACT: Symptoms and signs during concussion recovery may be subtle or non-existent, so it’s important to note from experts that exercise and playing sports may actually cause symptoms to reappear and therefore interrupt the recovery process. It is recommended to not return to any sports or super physical activity until getting the green light from a healthcare professional.
5. MYTH: You have fully recovered if your only symptom is a headache.
FACT: There are often no visible signs from a concussion, and it may be dangerous to rely on self-symptom checking before going out again on the field or in the gym. Full concussion recovery should always be determined by a healthcare professional, even if most or all symptoms have subsided.
6. MYTH: A grade-three concussion is more serious that a grade-one.
FACT: Doctors and healthcare professionals used to grade concussions when diagnosing, but are now unable to do so accurately because symptoms are difficult to determine a diagnosis initially. It may take a while for symptoms to subside before an accurate diagnosis and severity may be determined.
7. MYTH: Helmets are a good safety precaution to prevent concussions.
FACT: Helmets are designed for fractures in the skull, not concussions. It may help with the risk of severity of a concussion, but experts believe it doesn’t help to prevent them, yet!