A concussion is a medical condition caused by impact or trauma to the head, and characterised by headache, nausea, loss of balance, dizziness, and sometimes emotional symptoms such as irritability. So much for what one feels like. To the observer, a concussion can manifest itself through a dazed facial expression, forgetfulness, clumsy movements, and sometimes and most obviously, a loss of consciousness. A concussion is not the only condition that could cause these symptoms. They can result from other causes; further tests are always in order if you believe you or someone else has suffered a concussion. The concussion myths listed below should help clear up further confusion on the topic. If you feel disoriented by the information, don’t worry; it’s just new knowledge, not a brain injury.

You have to be hit on the head to suffer a concussion.

False. Concussions often result from a blow to the head, but not always. Being violently shaken or spun can cause a concussion, as can an extremely loud noise or a non-lethal shock wave. Being bonked on the head, while a tried and true method of getting a concussion, is not the only way.

Concussion is a “brain bruise,” analogous to a body injury

Wrong again. Concussion is indeed caused by a jarring of the brain, or alternately by a sudden stop to motion, such as a sudden cessation of fast spinning. But the injury itself is not a bruise at all; it the result of depolarization of brain cells, which then rapidly fire their neurotransmitters in one intense burst. Receptors in the brain get overloaded, especially those connected with memory.

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If you suffer a sports concussion, you should sit out until your head is clearer, then get back in the game.

This is so wrong it would make a neurologist’s head spin (one would hope not rapidly enough to cause a concussion). While concussions vary in severity, none are “minor” even in a championship game. The time it takes your brain to recover is measured in weeks, not minutes.


Once your brain recovers, you’re as good as new

You never forget your first girl, and you never forget your first concussion- until, perhaps, a later one damages the bit of your brain responsible for that memory. If you have suffered a first concussion you are up to four times more likely to suffer a second one, and with each concussion your chances of suffering another increase.

A concussion may feel terrible, but it won’t kill you

While a concussion, even one that causes a blackout, will not necessarily cause further damage (other than future susceptibility,) a second concussion suffered soon after the first can lead to second impact syndrome. This condition is a dramatic swelling of the brain which cuts off the brain’s oxygen supply–leading to permanent brain damage or even death. With the right care, most concussions ultimately can be of moderate consequence, but beware of these concussion myths. A cavalier attitude toward this serious medical condition could make matters much worse. 8936307-large