Concussion is a trending subject and the research and information into it is only growing in modern society. Long gone are the days of players getting hit in the head and returning to the field. Now, in all professional sports, anyone who suffers head trauma needs to be fully assessed before returning to the field and most medical professionals are extremely cautious before clearing a player to return.
However, even with concussion being constantly in the media there are many myths associated with it that are still present to this day. So below are 5 concussion myths that can be debunked!
Myth #1 - You have to be hit in the head to get concussion
False! You do not need to have direct trauma to the head in order to get concussion. Whilst an impact to the head is often the most common cause of concussion, impacts to other parts of the body can cause vibrations in the head and also potentially results in a 'whiplash' effect that can cause concussion. Many contact sports such as AFL and NFL have 'whiplash' concussions due to the speed and force of contact.
Myth #2 - Helmets prevent concussions
Protective helmets do not PREVENT concussion. However, they can reduce the severity of concussion by absorbing some of the force of the impact to the head and cushioning any whiplash. Some of the forces of impact and whiplash are still transferred to the head even when wearing a helmet. This is why you often see NFL players still suffering concussion injuries even though they wear helmets whilst playing.
Myth #3 - Players saying they're 'Fine to Play.'
Generally, whenever a player says they're 'fine to play,' they generally aren't. Initially concussion symptoms may be minor so players often return to the field. However, if any concussion symptoms are exhibited, players should not be allowed to return to the field. If players return to the field they are at an increased risk of suffering a Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) which is a 2nd impact to the head. This can cause even severe swelling and bleeding on the brain, potentially resulting in death. Therefore if any concussion is suspected players shouldn't be allowed to return to the field.
Myth #4 - An MRI or CT Scan is required to diagnose concussion
Incorrect. Whilst an MRI or CT scan would likely show the true extent of potentially bleeding or swelling on the brain, they are not required to make a diagnosis. There are several diagnostic tests such as the SCAT-5 that many sporting teams use to quickly diagnose symptoms of concussions.
Myth #5 - If you have a concussion you should avoid screens and bright lights
False. Whenever someone has a concussion their exposure to bright screens and lights should be monitored and gradually increased as symptoms begin to reduce. Bright lights and screens can aggravate symptoms, so they don't need to be avoided, rather monitored and exposure should be gradually re-introduced as symptoms are feeling better.
If you are having issues with concussion symptoms, you should book in with your doctor to discuss measures to help reduce symptoms.