Concussions: Fact vs. fiction

With many high school athletes back on the field for the fall sports season, the dreaded c-word is weighing on the minds of coaches, parents and doctors: concussions.

Our physicians at Norton Healthcare continue to discover new ways to study, prevent and treat concussions. Still, even with this evolving knowledge, there are many myths about concussions that exist among the general public.

Tad Seifert, M.D., director of the Sports Concussion Program for Norton Healthcare and neurologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute, is working to dispel these myths.

“Properly identifying and treating concussions are keys to potentially avoiding more long-term, life-changing injuries,” said Dr. Seifert, who’s also the head of the NCAA Headache Task Force. “It’s really important that we educate everyone — from players and parents to coaches and athletic directors — on how to deal with and prevent concussions.”

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about concussions and what the research really shows:


Myth: Someone with a concussion should be woken up every 2 to 3 hours.

Fact: Drowsiness and fatigue are common symptoms of a concussion. Getting plenty of sleep and allowing the brain to heal are necessary for recovery.

Myth: You should not treat the headache from a concussion with any medications because you might mask the symptoms.

Fact: Talk to your physician; often, over-the-counter pain relievers are fine. Sometimes prescriptions are needed.

Myth: When you have a concussion, you lose consciousness.

Fact: Less than 10 percent of concussions involve loss of consciousness.

Myth: Male athletes are more likely to sustain a concussion.

Fact: Studies show female athletes are actually more prone to concussions.

Myth: An athlete needs to be hit on the head to sustain a concussion.

Fact: Concussions can occur from any sudden movement or jostling of the head, as in whiplash injuries.

Myth: Injury to the brain only occurs at the initial impact of the concussion.

Fact: Chemical and metabolic changes can persist for days, weeks or months after impact.

Myth: Helmets and equipment will prevent concussions if the newest model is used.

Fact: Helmets, mouth guards and other protective devices may lower the risk, but no equipment can fully protect against a concussion.

For some people, concussion symptoms may subside after only a few hours. For others, it may take several weeks or months to return to normal. If symptoms persist, however, it is important to call your physician. To learn more about concussions, visit Norton Sports Health.


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