Football fans love to cheer on their favorite team in the stands, at the parking lot tailgate, or on TV. Unfortunately, head injuries, namely concussions, are part of the game.

One in 14 high school football players and one in 20 collegiate football players suffer a concussion each year, according to the American Medical Association’s Pediatrics Journal. With more research exposing the negative side effects from head injuries, coaches, athletes, and parents are more concerned about how to play the game safely.

While concussions may also occur in dancers, gymnasts, basketball players, and soccer players, anyone can fall or have an accident and get a concussion. No two concussions are exactly alike, which makes it complicated to diagnose and recognize symptoms.

Here are a few myths about concussions to help keep athletes aware of the various symptoms.

Myth #1: You must black out to have a concussion.
It’s a common misconception that a concussion only occurs after a person loses consciousness. A number of other symptoms can point to a concussion like:

  • Significant changes in mood or irritability
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Any one of these symptoms or a combination may indicate that someone has suffered a concussion. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, call your doctor as soon as possible.

Myth #2: You must be hit on the head to have a concussion.
Concussions occur from head-on impact, rotational injuries, or whiplash injuries. Any hard or fast blow to the body can impact the brain, even if there’s no direct head contact. An athlete should be examined for a concussion after any physical impact or collision.

Myth #3:  Helmets and mouth guards prevent concussions.
No helmet, padding, or mouth guard can completely protect an athlete from experiencing a concussion. Protective gear is designed to help prevent many injuries, which makes it very important to wear, but even the most modern, high-tech equipment can’t fully protect an athlete’s brain.

Myth #4:  If you get a concussion, you will experience symptoms immediately.
Symptoms from a concussion may happen immediately, which makes it easier to identify from the sidelines, but some symptoms can also be delayed. Changes in the brain cells can occur over days, weeks, or months. Symptoms may persist, improve, or worsen depending on how quickly a concussion is diagnosed and treated.

Myth #5:  After a concussion, you must avoid sports, but otherwise, you can resume daily activities.
Getting plenty of rest after a concussion is one of the most important things you can do during the recovery process including minimizing the amount of time you spend socializing, reading, watching television, or browsing online. Preventing a second impact is the key to making progress in the recovery period. Your physician will help you develop a plan to return to activities slowly.

Remember, your health takes priority. Know what to look out for and play it safe!

Make an appointment: 855-WVU-CARE.