Cropped image. Staff Sgt. Jonathon Fowler, U.S. Air Force.
Myth: Someone with a concussion should be woken up every two to three hours.
Fact:: Infants or toddlers may not be able to tell you how they feel, so it may be appropriate to wake them up during the night to make sure they are arousable. Older children, teens, and adults who are awake and able to carry on a conversation can sleep uninterrupted. Sleep is very beneficial in concussion healing. Drowsiness and fatigue are common symptoms that people experience after a concussion. If you suspect that someone has had a concussion, have that person evaluated by a health care professional who will advise on what to do next.
Myth: Everyone with a concussion needs a CT scan or MRI.
Fact: Damage to the brain from concussion is on a microscopic level and cannot be detected from a CT scan or MRI. These images will pick up structural damage, like a fracture or a bleed in the brain. If a person suffers a concussion, these images will not show any abnormalities.
Myth: A concussion requires a loss of consciousness.
Fact: A loss of consciousness happens in only approximately 10 percent of all concussions. Every concussion is different. In some cases, a person who has a loss of consciousness may suffer less injury than someone who remained awake after the injury.
Myth: Helmets prevent concussions.
Fact: Helmets can prevent skull fractures or a more serious injury, like a bleed in the brain, but they don’t prevent a concussion from occurring. The brain “floats” in fluid that surrounds the brain inside the skull, kind of like pickles in a jar. If the brain gets jostled around inside the skull, even when wearing a helmet, it can cause a concussion. It is always a good idea to wear helmets when biking or participating in sports to prevent a serious injury.
Myth: You need to hit your head to sustain a concussion.
Fact: A concussion can occur without an actual blow to the head. It can occur from whiplash type injuries (front to back) and rotational injuries (side to side). When the head or upper body is shaken with enough force, the brain can move around and slam into the inside of the skull such as in a car accident or being violently shaken.
Myth: A child should not go back to school until he or she is free of concussion symptoms.
Fact: For the first two to three days, it is OK to keep a child home for complete cognitive rest. However, most concussed students may return to school after this time, but may require additional supports at school during recovery. Studies show that keeping children home for too long can create anxiety due to missing school work and social life. Having anxiety can prolong symptom recovery.
Myth: The symptoms of concussion begin immediately after the injury.
Fact: The symptoms of concussion may start immediately after the injury; however, they can also appear the next day or even two or more days later. In fact, delayed onset of signs and symptoms is more likely in younger athletes.
Myth: All concussions have the same clear-cut symptoms.
Fact: No two concussions are alike. Headache is the most commonly reported symptom in both males and females, but there are many other symptoms that can occur with concussion, including nausea, dizziness, trouble sleeping, fatigue, light sensitivity or sound sensitivity. Any person can have a combination of these symptoms or more.
Myth: You must be placed in a dark room to recover from concussion.
Fact: Recent studies show that prolonged, complete cognitive and physical rest do not make the recovery process faster. In fact, people who take active, individualized approaches to resume light activities while still symptomatic following concussion are showing faster recovery rates. Prolonged complete rest, like lying in a dark room and staying home from school for an extended amount of time, can lead to anxiety and depression issues as well as fatigue.
– Susan Musto. ANP-BC, nurse practitioner at the Concussion Clinic, Beaumont Health Neuroscience Center