Concussion Mythbusting: Shedding Light on the Truth About Head Injuries

Concussions, a condition that has been in the limelight more and more, are a mild form of traumatic brain injury that occur following a blow to the head, neck, or body.  Concussions result in a temporary loss of normal brain function, change in mental status, and physical symptoms like headache, nausea, or blurred vision. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what causes concussions and how to properly care for someone who has experienced a mild trauma to the brain.  To combat these concussion misconceptions, check out our top 5 myths below.

Top 5 Concussion Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Myth #1: A loss of consciousness is the only way to prove you’ve sustained a concussion

The myth that you need to lose consciousness or be knocked out in order to have sustained a concussion is one of the biggest misconceptions.  The truth is that approximately 90% of concussions happen without loss of consciousness. The other side of the same coin is that a person who loses consciousness does should not automatically be assumed to have a concussion.

Myth #2: You need to wake a concussion sufferer up every 20 minutes

While it is certainly important to check on a concussion patient within the first several hours following their injury, the individual should be allowed to rest and sleep as much as needed in order to properly recover.  After the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, the concussion patient will often experience ongoing fatigue and possible changes in cognitive function. Resting both the body and brain is key. As recovery progresses and symptoms lessen, adding in gradual increases in normal daily activities will aid the healing process.

Myth #3: A concussion can only happen from a direct blow to the head

Not all concussions happen from a blow directly to the head.  Many concussions happen from a blow to the neck or another part of the body that can result in the head (and brain) moving rapidly back and forth.  A good example of this is a motor vehicle accident during which a person has no direct head trauma, but their head and neck snapped back and forth quickly enough to cause a mild traumatic brain injury.

Myth #4: Wearing a helmet prevents concussions

The truth is that a “concussion-proof” helmet just doesn’t exist, and one of the main jobs of a helmet is to protect the skull from fracture.  Helmet technology is certainly progressing to provide better head protection, but it’s important to remember that the brain is made of soft tissues and is suspended in fluid within the skull.  Any injury forceful enough, no matter how expensive the helmet, can cause your brain to shift inside the skull and cause a concussion.

Myth #5: Concussions aren’t serious, you can just “shake it off” and get back to play almost immediately

No two concussions are alike, which means there are many different signs and symptoms that can take time to develop after an injury is sustained.  It may be tempting for players and coaches to think it’s safe to return to the game after a few minutes of sitting it out. However, because judgment can be impaired, a person should not self-diagnose or decide on a whim that they are alright.  Many teams are incorporating concussion baseline testing that can help in making more sound decisions after an athlete experiences a suspected concussion.

Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome

One of the major risks associated with concussion and mild traumatic brain injury is the risk of ongoing symptoms.  A person can begin to show signs of post-concussion syndrome (PCS) anywhere from days to weeks following the time of the injury.  It is easy to assume that PCS is more likely to develop in more severe head injuries, however, this isn’t the case. The severity of the injury and concussion does not actually play a role in a person’s likelihood of developing PCS symptoms.

Post-concussion syndrome symptoms often include:

  • Headache
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Poor sleep quality or insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating and other cognitive issues
  • Changes in personality
  • Heightened sensitivity to light and sound

In people dealing with PCS, these common concussion-related symptoms don’t go away as expected and can drag on for months or years.

Healing from a Concussion with Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Whether a concussion occurs from a blow to the head, neck, or trunk, a great enough force has been generated to cause a shift of the brain tissue inside the skull.  When this happens, there is also a very high likelihood that the vertebra that sits at the junction between the head and neck was affected too. The atlas vertebra forms the critical connection between the head and neck.  It is the most freely movable segment of the entire spine and is responsible for a majority of our head and neck ranges of motion. A misalignment of the atlas (C1) can contribute to lingering concussion symptoms for several reasons:

  • It can cause irritation to the brainstem, causing abnormal neurological function
  • It can compromise normal blood flow between the head and neck via the vertebral arteries
  • It can impair the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)

At Providence Chiropractic, we focus on the precise analysis and correcting of upper cervical misalignments.  Patients experiencing stubborn and lingering symptoms after a concussion should make it a priority to have their atlas alignment analyzed by an upper cervical chiropractor.  We are able to take detailed measurements of our patients’ head and neck alignment so that we can customize gentle adjustments designed to correct misalignments that may have occurred at the time of the initial injury.  By doing so, we can reduce the factors that are preventing the body’s normal healing process from progressing. This gentle, effective option has helped many people suffering from post-concussion syndrome get back to living the quality of life that they’re accustomed to.  For more information about upper cervical chiropractic care and how we can help, please visit our website at



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