Nearly three million sports and recreation related concussions happen every year. Each one of those concussions is a complex injury and therefore, there is no simple time frame for recovery.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, which is the ideal time to bring you Part 2 of Concussion Myth or Fact. Alicia Sufrinko, PhD , a neuropsychologist at UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, explains the facts behind some of the most common concussion myths.
Myth: You must be hit in the head to have a concussion.
Fact: A concussion is caused by the shaking of the brain within the skull. This can occur from direct or indirect forces to the head. A strong whiplash motion or body hit may provide enough force to cause a concussion.
Myth: Once your headache is gone, it’s okay to return to play.
Fact: While headache is the most common symptom experienced, there are more than 20 distinct symptoms of concussion. Therefore, it is not the only indicator that someone has recovered. The current International Return to Play Criteria states that an individual must be symptom free at rest, symptom free with physical exertion, and must demonstrate neurocognitive test data that is within baseline expectations. This requires a comprehensive evaluation by a trained medical professional. No athlete should return to play without proper clearance from a medical professional trained in concussion management.
Myth: All medical professionals are trained to manage concussions.
Fact: Many medical professionals have not received proper training in concussion management. Given the significant advancements in the field, it is important to find a provider who has been trained appropriately in concussion management and treatment protocols. Proper evaluations should include some form of neurocognitive testing, as well as a structured return-to-play exertion protocol.
To learn more about concussion diagnosis and treatment options, visit the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program website.