Concussion Myths

A CONCUSSION IS A BRUISE IN THE BRAIN

No, a concussion is a functional injury that affects how the brain works and not necessarily its structure. This is why concussion symptoms can include difficulty remembering, trouble concentrating, and feeling slowed down.

A NORMAL CT SCAN RULES OUT A CONCUSSION

Since concussions do not involve injury to the brain structure, they cannot be seen on a CT scan, and MRI or an X-Ray. Such tests are used to rule out other types of problems, such as bleeding in the brain, and are normal in the majority of concussions. Diagnosing a concussion is based on how the injury occurred and symptoms the athlete is experiencing.

A CONCUSSION ONLY OCCURS AS A RESULT OF A DIRECT BLOW TO THE HEAD

Not only. While the majority of concussions do involve a blow to the head, or hitting the head on something such as the ground or a wall, it is possible to get a concussion when the head suddenly moves or changes its direction of movement, like a hit that stops the athlete’s momentum and cause the head to snap forward quickly or a hit to the body where the force of the impact is transmitted to the head.

MALE ATHLETES SUSTAIN MORE CONCUSSIONS THAN FEMALE ONES

Not the case. Male athletes sustain concussions at similar rates as female ones. However, recent studies have shown that symptoms might vary by gender, as males with concussions experience more physiological issues such as balance problems while females experience more psychosocial issues such as fatigue or low energy.

WEARING A HELMET PREVENTS A CONCUSSION

There is no scientific evidence that strongly supports the claim that any type of helmet or equipment is able to prevent a concussion. Helmets are designed to prevent skull fractures, not concussions. However, a properly fitted, well-maintained helmet is very important to wear when playing roller derby in order to avoid serious brain or head injuries.

IF THE ATHLETE IS NOT “KNOCKED OUT”, IT IS NOT A CONCUSSION

Not true. In fact, fewer than 10% of concussions involve a loss of consciousness. In some cases, a headache is the only symptom an athlete may experience, but if it occurs after a blow to the head, it creates a concussion. However, if the athlete does lose consciousness, it’s probable that he or she has sustained a concussion and should be evaluated by a doctor.

IT’S OK TO FINISH THE GAME AND THEN CHECK FOR A CONCUSSION

Absolutely not. The greatest danger in playing with a concussion is a rare condition called Second Impact Syndrome that results in either death or permanent life-altering changes in the person’s ability to function normally. Additionally, playing with a concussion will prolong or worsen the symptoms because the brain needs physical and mental rest in order to recover.

SYMPTOMS WILL BEGIN AS SOON AS THE ATHLETE IS HIT IN THE HEAD

Not always. In many cases, symptoms will begin immediately or within minutes, but in other cases symptoms can evolve 24-48 hours after the initial injury. Some athletes may sustain a blow to the head and think they are fine for a few hours, but they will then wake up with a painful headache and sensitivity to light or noise the next morning. This is why an athlete should never be allowed to return to play without following a proper protocol.

CONCUSSIONS ARE THE SAME FOR ADULTS AND YOUNGER ATHLETES

The brains of teens and children are still developing, so the effects of a concussion on these young athletes are more dynamic than on mature ones and may take longer to recover from. It is highly recommended to enforce a longer recovery period for young athletes.