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Dispelling the Myths around Concussion

The most common type of injury sustained after a blow to the head is concussion.  Concussion can range from being a minor incident which requires rest and observation at home, to a severe, life-threatening injury.

As an example of this latter scenario, in April 2014 a coroner ruled that a 14 year old boy died as a result of “second impact syndrome”.  The boy was participating in a school rugby match when he suffered two concussive type injuries in quick succession which saw him collapse to the ground and tragically never regain consciousness.

Listed below are some of the myths surrounding concussion that need to be dispelled in order to protect people from more serious injury.

Myth number 1.  You have to be knocked out to receive a concussion.

You do not have to be knocked unconscious for concussion to occur. It happens when a blow to the head or body, or a fall or other injury shakes and jars the brain inside the skull.  This affects the reticular activating system in the brain which controls your sense of awareness and consciousness.

If you suspect you or a person you are with has concussion, look for the following signs:

• Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
• Temporary loss of consciousness
• Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
• Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
• Dizziness or “seeing stars”
• Ringing in the ears
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Slurred speech
• Delayed response to questions
• Appearing dazed
• Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

• Concentration and memory complaints
• Irritability and other personality changes
• Sensitivity to light and noise
• Sleep disturbances
• Psychological adjustment problems and depression
• Disorders of taste and smell


Head trauma is very common in young children. If your child has received anything more than a light bump on the head, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends you should seek medical advice.  Nonverbal clues of a concussion in children may include:

• Appearing dazed
• Listlessness and tiring easily
• Irritability and crankiness
• Loss of balance and unsteady walking
• Crying excessively
• Change in eating or sleeping patterns
• Lack of interest in favourite toys

Myth number 2.  Players can carry on playing after a severe blow to the head if they feel up to it.

One of the most common situations for concussion to occur is on the sports field.  Players are particularly vulnerable in contact sports such as rugby, boxing and football.

Following recent high profile cases, sporting associations have put more emphasis on alerting players to the dangers of multiple concussions over a lifetime.

Symptoms of concussion may not appear immediately after an accident.  Therefore, if a player has experienced a severe blow to the head and concussion is suspected, they should be taken out of the game immediately.  If they continue to play there is a real risk of becoming concussed for a second time causing “second impact syndrome” which can lead to long-term, serious brain damage or death.

Myth number 3.  Concussion can only be caused by a direct blow to the head.

Concussion can be caused by a sudden violent movement of the head caused by an external force applied to the body, for example, a rugby tackle or a car accident.

Myth number 4.  A little concussion is no big deal.

A concussion is considered to be a mild traumatic brain injury.  If it is not treated properly it can lead to long-term disability or even death.  Your brain needs time to heal and rest before you return to normal, day-to-day activity.

A brain injury is always serious and should be treated as such.  If you have suffered from a concussion, or suspect someone close to you has it, seek medical advice straight away.

If you have suffered an injury which could have been avoided, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim, for more information visit our personal injury page. If you would rather speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in this contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.