Do you think you have to hit your head or black out in order for it to count as a concussion? Is the best thing for you to sit in the quiet dark? Are doing those exercises alone really helping? Read on to find out more about these and other heavily perpetrated myths abut concussions.
Common Myths About Concussions
Concussions present the same in men and women.
There are several difference in the symptoms and presentation of concussion in men and women.
1. Women experience longer and more severe symptoms than men
- Women can exhibit symptoms three to four weeks later, where typically the males recover 10 to 14 days after. Females may take longer to recover because of neuroanatomical differences in the brain compared with men, as well as females displaying slower nerve signals while males have faster nerve impulses in their brains, which could lead them to have a quicker healing process.
2. Women sustain more concussions during practice and games than men in similar sports
- Research shows that women in college soccer sustained more concussions during practices and games than men in the same sport. Women could be more at risk of concussions than men because they have a greater “ball-to-head size ratio,” or smaller heads compared with the ball. There’s a greater transmission of forces that are occurring.
3. Less developed shoulder and neck muscles in women may result in more brain injuries
- One study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that female soccer players had a significantly greater “head-neck angular acceleration,” which is a type of biomechanical measure of head impact, and head displacement than male soccer players. Angular acceleration is thought to be damaging to people’s brains and a cause of brain injury.
4. A woman’s hormones may affect her health outcomes immediately following a concussion
- Researchers found that women who were injured during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle — when progesterone was at its highest (luteal phase) — had worse post-concussion symptoms compared with women injured during the first two weeks — when progesterone was low (follicular phase) — and with those who were taking contraceptive pills.
- since concussions can often damage the pituitary gland (a gland responsible for output of hormones in the body), men can also be affected by hormonal changes further down the line.
5. Women are more likely to report their symptoms than men.
- Tracey Covassin, PhD, an associate professor and director of the undergraduate athletic program at Michigan State University in East Lansing, studies concussions in female athletes. She noted that men typically hide their symptoms in order to not let their coaches or teams down. She also says that men have more opportunities to play in a professional setting, so they don’t want to put their career on the line for the sake of a head injury.
You need to just rest and wait for your brain to heal
While this has been the standard protocol in treating concussion in the past, however rest alone has not been shown to be an effective strategy for healing a concussion. Resting and doing nothing can actually hinder and slow progress. If you broke your leg, you would not sit around waiting for it to heal correct? No, you would want to go to the doctor, get an x ray and find out exactly what was broken and cast it, and then work on rehabbing it once the cast was removed.
The brain should be treated in much the same manner. You need a precise program that is tailored to your specific symptoms so that you can begin the healing process right away, with the proper tools and resources.
You need to cocoon yourself away in darkness
This advice is often suggested under the assumption that in order for your brain to heal, you must avoid as much stimulation as possible. While this might have a positive benefit on occasion, if you reduce all stimuli and light, you body can become deconditioned and used to that state. This can hinder recovery by making it an even greater shock to the system once you reintroduce light, noise and activity. This is not to say that it cannot be benficial to go lie down in a quiet dark room every now and then but the crucial part of treatment is taking precise steps every day toward healing the cause of your light sensitivity so you can get back to living your life.
Exercise with a concussion is bad
Comprimised blood flow to brain can be present in concussions before symptoms even begin to present themselves. Developing a light exercise routine can assist with increasing and improving that blood flow, but you want to make sure that you are exercising below your symptom thershold. Exercise should not exacerbate your symptoms, but you want to prevent deconditioning.
You just need to wait for the symptoms to go away
If your check engine light comes on in your car, are you going to try and disconnect it so that the light just goes away, or are you going to take it to a mechanic to figure out what is going on and what needs to be fixed? All too often with braiin injuries, we find people chasing hteir symptoms and just trying to get the symptoms to go away without addressing what aspect might be causing that symptom in the first palce. When neurons are injured they create a malfunction much like your check engine light. We can help you pinpoint areas of focus to get you back to your regular life sooner and safer.
Generic concussion protocols are fine because they are all targeting the same things anyways, right?
In a concussion, it is vital to take a precision approach to diagnosis, so you can be highly targeted in the treatment process. Your concussion recovery program should be built specifically for you and address your exact needs and do so within your specific metabolic capacity.
All too often concussion programs hand out generic exercises that you are told to do at home, or in a clinic without much supervision to even know if you are doing them correctly. At the Maryland Center for Brain Health, we are invested in your recovery and want to make sure that your program is specfically tailored to you to provide maximum outcomes.
You need to lose consciousness in order for it be a concussion
"I've had 3 diagnosed concussions. I could not even focus for 3 seconds. I'm not only getting back what I lost from this concussion, but I'm returning to what I was pre the other concussions. I'm me again"