There are an astounding amount of myths related to concussions and traumatic brain injuries. I’ve previously shared an infographic debunking several of the widely believed myths about concussions, but there are more than enough misconceptions about the most common form of brain injury to spend some more time correcting the most popular myths.
Many of the more recent myths come from the increased focus on brain injuries in sports but the truth is the majority of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls, car crashes, and bicycling wrecks. And, that misbelief is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other surprisingly common fallacies.
Myth No. 1 – Sports-related concussions are mainly a football problem
Football gets the most coverage because it is the most common sport in which American kids suffer concussions and is the favorite professional sport in the country. But, there are numerous other sports with brain injury issues becoming a prominent problem. Cycling, hockey, lacrosse, and soccer are the other sports with the highest concussion rates, but other sports like basketball and even baseball have their fair share of brain injuries.
Myth No. 2 – The rate of sports-related concussions is going up
Numerous recent studies have shown stark increases in emergency room visits for brain injuries – especially sports-related concussions. However, the increased rates might not mean more children are suffering brain injuries. As a matter of fact, it is believed that the increased rate of emergency room visits is the result of increased education and awareness about brain injuries in sports. Before concussion education became a common part of pre-season sports training, it is likely many children ignored their brain injuries in order to continue playing. Now that they are aware of the larger risks at hand, these children are making the better choice and taking any possible brain injuries seriously.
Myth No. 3 – Headaches and “getting your bell rung” are a normal part of contact sports
It appears concussions have always been a part of contact sports, but they used to go largely undiagnosed. This has led to some unique problems in sports culture where many athletes and their older coaching staff believe the symptoms of brain injuries are just part of the game. This is why “getting your bell rung” was a common term for getting hit hard enough to likely cause a brain injury. For decades, players would get knocked dizzy and return to play, and it will take time to change the culture with greater awareness and education about the risks of continuing to play through any sign of a brain injury.
Myth No. 4 – Children can get back to sports before school
With childhood TBI, it is important to keep priorities in order. Your child should always be a student first, and athlete second, even if there is a big game coming up. The first step after a brain injury should be to get symptoms under control so that your child can return to school. Once they can make it through normal school responsibilities without a recurrence of symptoms, then it should be safe to return to sports.
Myth No. 5 – Concussion treatments are all the same
There is one common requirement for just about every concussion – get some rest. But, everyone’s symptoms can be different and treatments need to be molded to each person’s needs. For example, some need physical therapy to help manage neck pain, while others may deal with speech or vision problems. This is one reason why it is important to be honest about symptoms and to find a doctor that will help you make the right plan for recovery.