Traumatic Brain Injury: Myth # 1 – You have to be knocked out to suffer a brain injury

by John McKiggan

“I wasn’t knocked out. How could I have a brain injury?”

I get asked that question a lot. Some people still think that it is still necessary to suffer a loss of consciousness (be knocked out) in order to suffer a brain injury. I would say that the number 1 myth about brain injuries is that you can only suffer a brain injury if you have been knocked unconscious.

Concussion = Brain Injury

More than 30 years ago the Congress of Neurological Surgeons concluded that a head injury that leads to a change in mental status (being dazed or confused) without any loss of consciousness is a form of brain injury.

This type of injury is what is commonly referred to today as a concussion.

Shake it off and get back in the game!

When I was growing up, if a hockey player or football player “had their bell rung” it was common practise for the coach to simply have the player sit on the sidelines until they were able to “shake it off”. Then the player would return to the game.

Today, sports medicine specialists now recognize that suffering a concussion (what we used to call “having your bell rung”) is a serious injury.

Here is an excellent summary of information about sports related concussions in children.

Concussions can Cause Permanent Damage

The cumulative effects of repeated concussions can cause lasting disability and functional impairment. In fact, the risk of serious injury from concussion is so significant that the Canadian Medical Association has called for a ban on body checking for hockey players less than 15 years of age.

Family Doctors Need More Training About Brain Injury?

Over 10 years ago the Journal of the American Medical Association called for more education for family physicians about the effects of mild brain injury. The American Medical Association was concerned about a common misperception that it was necessary for a patient to be knocked unconscious in order to suffer a concussion.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, mild traumatic brain injury can occur with brief or no loss of consciousness. Studies published by the American Psychiatric Association’s Textbook of Neuropsychiatry confirms that patients with mild traumatic brain injury can have physical, perceptual, cognitive and emotional symptoms that collectively is now called post-concussive syndrome.

What Should I Do?

If you suspect you or a family member may have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury you should immediately seek medical attention. You will need to provide your doctor with complete information about how the accident happened and the symptoms that your or your family member has been suffering from since the accident.

Here is a checklist of the symptoms of concussion developed by the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia.

If you are looking for a Nova Scotia Brain Injury Lawyer you can contact me through this blog for a free copy of my book, The Survivors Guide to Brain Injury Claims: How to prove the invisible injury, or by calling me toll free at 1-877-891-1664.

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