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Concussion Myths and Facts: Top 5

About the authors: Aimee Stafford and Lauren Rutka are Occupational Therapists at Altum Health’s Toronto clinic, located inside Toronto Western Hospital. This article shares some common concussion myths, and the facts to help dispel them.

Concussion Myth #1: The best thing to do after sustaining a concussion is to stay in a dark room with no noise until you feel better.

Fact: There is not enough evidence to suggest that rest is the only way to recover from a concussion. It is good to rest in the first 24-48 hours after injury. However, it is better to gradually return to pre-injury activities. Evidence shows that participating in one’s daily activities is a good way to promote recovery.  

Concussion Myth #2: Pain relievers like Tylenol or Advil are the best way to manage a concussion-related headache.

Fact: Headache is the most common and persistent symptom of concussion. Although pain-relievers such as Tylenol can provide temporary relief, too frequent or prolonged use can result in a risk of chronic headaches caused by medication overuse also known as “rebound headache”.

Concussion Myth #3: You need to have a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis of a concussion.

Fact: There is no definitive diagnostic tool to diagnose a concussion. An experienced physician is the only one who can properly make an assessment. One symptom is enough to diagnose a concussion. CT scans are typically used to rule out brain hemorrhaging. 

Concussion Myth #4: You have to have received a direct blow to the head to sustain a concussion.

Fact: A concussion can occur either because of a direct blow to the head or when there is a blow to the body that causes your head to move back and forth quickly. An example of this is when someone sustains whiplash in a car accident.

Concussion Myth #5: Concussion symptoms are mainly physical in nature (for example headaches, dizziness, and nausea).

Fact: It is true that these are common symptoms of a concussion. Individuals may also experience mood changes (such as irritability, frustration and crying more often), cognitive changes (such as difficulty concentrating or decreased memory) and difficulty sleeping (such as sleeping more or less than usual or poorer sleep quality).

Interested in learning more concussion myths and facts? Head over to our concussion-specific page.

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