There are several widespread misconceptions about concussions and brain injuries that must be dispelled in order to protect the health of both children and adults. Head trauma often leads to a traumatic brain injury, with devastating and long-lasting consequences. A head injury can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.
Myth: I Don’t Need to Worry About a “Mild” Brain Injury
Any brain injury is a cause for concern – even one that is categorized as “mild.” The Brain Injury Association of America notes, “The term ‘mild’ is used in reference to the severity of the initial physical trauma that caused the injury. It does not indicate the severity of the consequences of the injury.” Mild brain injuries can have serious results, such as persistent headaches, problems with concentration, fatigue and anxiety. Repeated mild brain injuries may cause severe cognitive problems.
Myth: Wearing a Helmet Prevents All Concussions
Wearing a helmet assists in preventing concussions, but it cannot be considered completely effective. Don’t assume that because the injured person wore a helmet that there is no chance of a concussion. Get a medical assessment after any head trauma, helmet or no helmet.
Myth: If You Didn’t Lose Consciousness, You Don’t Have a Concussion
The Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital reports that only between 10 and 20 percent of all children who have suffered from a concussion actually lost consciousness at the time of injury. A concussion or serious head injury may not include any period of unconsciousness.
Myth: Children Can Recover From Brain Injuries Faster Than Adults
It is a myth that children can recover from brain injuries faster than adults. In fact, children in some cases will take far longer to recover than an adult. A full recovery depends on the level of impact, point of impact, the severity of the injury and how quickly the injured child gets medical treatment. A growing brain responds differently, and the child may experience symptoms far longer than an adult.
Children are extremely resilient but a child’s young brain is more susceptible to long-term injury, and the chance of developmental difficulties is hard to predict. In some instances, the effects of a concussion or brain injury in a younger child may not be fully realized until later on in the child’s life.
In addition, while a child may appear to have fully recovered, he or she may still be in the healing process. Recovery may require many months or longer. Seeking medical attention and treatment after any head trauma can dramatically reduce the chances of suffering from long-term damage caused by a concussion or brain injury.
- Brain Injury Association of America: Mild Brain Injury and Concussion
- Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital: Debunking the Most Common Myths About Concussions
- Brainline.org: Making a Difference #5: Brain Injury in Children