Neuromythology: Debunking the Top Concussion Myths

Neuromythology: Debunking the Top Concussion Myths

The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is helping people everywhere rethink concussions. To help demystify some of the misconceptions about concussion, Dr. Micky Collins breaks down the most common “neuromythology” being perpetuated today.
Debunking Concussion Myths


  1.  A concussion only occurs as a direct blow to the head.
  2.  A concussion occurs only when an athlete experiences a loss of consciousness.
  3.  Everyone is at the same risk for concussion.
  4.  It is safe for a player to return to the same game or practice after suffering concussion-related symptoms.
  5.  All concussions, treatments, and recoveries are alike.
  6.  You must be placed in a dark room to recover from a concussion.
  7.  Having one concussion places you at increased risk for future concussions.
  8.  Concussions definitively cause long-term brain damage and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
  9.  Helmets and mouth guards can prevent concussions.


  1.  A concussion may be caused by a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body if the force of impact is transmitted to the head
  2.  Concussions can occur with or without loss of consciousness (LOC), and about 90% of concussions do not result in LOC.
  3.  Various factors, including age, gender, and medical history put an individual at risk for sustaining a concussion.
  4.   There are many different signs/symptoms of concussion. Any athlete who displays these concussion symptoms shouldn’t be allowed to return to the current game or practice, even if the symptoms clear quickly.
  5.  No two concussions are identical. Our research has identified six different clinical trajectories for concussion.
  6.  Evidence-based active treatments for concussion exist, including vestibular therapy, vision therapy, exertion therapy, and medications.
  7.  Proper clinical management is the best form of prevention; recovery from one should not put an athlete at risk for another. But there are some inherent conditions (i.e. migraines) that can put you at higher risk.
  8.  Potential long-term effects from concussion come primarily from poorly managed injuries. Scientific studies linking concussion and long-term effects are still in progress and no definitive conclusions can be made.
  9.  While helmets have been shown to protect against skull fracture and sever traumatic brain injury, there is very little evidence that a particular brand of helmet reduces the incidence of concussion. Mouthguards, too.

Learn more about concussions.