• Call us (213) 742-1000
  • donate
Sports Medicine

Clearing Up Sports Concussion Myths 

Your son comes home after practice. He’s grinning from ear to ear because he did well. He casually mentions that he hit his head, but says he’s feeling fine now.

Later that night, he complains that he’s dizzy, and he feels like he’s going to throw up.

Between hitting his head and feeling nauseated, the symptoms add up: He might have a concussion.

A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury, and it’s common in sports. Between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions are reported every year. Experts suspect that the number of concussions in children is often underreported.

There are many myths floating around about concussions. Here are some, debunked.


 

Myth: All concussions involve getting hit on the head.

Fact: Direct hits to the head are major risk factors for concussions, but they aren’t always to blame. Concussions can also be caused by rotational forces (e.g., whiplash), when the brain is jarred in
any direction.


 

Myth: Most sports concussions are from football.

Fact: Sports like football and lacrosse can be especially risky, but almost any sport carries a risk of concussion. And while football is the leading cause of sports concussions for boys, soccer is the leading cause for girls.

Other sports that cause concussions include:

  • Ice hockey
  • Cycling
  • Basketball
  • Gymnastics
  • Cheerleading
  • Baseball and softball

 

Myth: Concussions aren’t serious injuries.

Fact: Concussions can cause side effects like dizziness, tiredness, blurred vision, or headaches. They can also make it difficult to complete tasks that require concentration or memory. These effects can last for several months, making it harder to go about everyday life. 

In serious cases, concussions can cause seizures.


 

Myth: Concussions are never emergencies.

Fact: Some concussions are mild, but others can be life-threatening without immediate treatment. If your child experiences a head injury, a care provider should always evaluate it.

Bring your child to the emergency room right away if you see any of these symptoms: 

  • Drowsiness or having a hard time waking up
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Confusion or strange behavior
  • Double vision
  • Memory loss
  • Stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty walking or talking
  • Blood or fluid leaking from the ears or nose
  • Slurred speech
  • Fever
  • Bad headaches
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Difficulty using his legs or arms
  • Won’t eat
  • Will not stop crying

 The symptoms of a concussion usually go away in 3 to 10 days. But if symptoms haven’t gone away in 2 to 3 weeks, take your child to a care provider. 


 

Myth: If my child’s symptoms aren’t too bad, they can return to sports.

Fact: Your child might be begging to start playing again, but be careful before you let them hit the field. The rate of recovery is different for everyone. It’s best to wait until your child’s care provider says there has been full recovery.

If your child is still recovering and experiences a second concussion, it could cause the brain to swell. This swelling is called second-impact syndrome, and it can cause permanent disability. In severe cases, it could even be life-threatening.


 

Myth: A helmet will always protect my child from a concussion.

Fact: Helmets can’t actually prevent against concussions, but they are still a good idea—they’re designed to prevent skull fractures. Also, a helmet that’s fitted properly can reduce the severity of a concussion if it occurs.

You can also reduce your child’s risk of getting a concussion by teaching about good sportsmanship and playing by the rules. This can help them avoid unnecessary aggression or illegal play.