Concussion Myths Part 1

When it comes to information around concussions, a lot has been said over the years and a lot of new research is constantly evolving and shaping our understanding of this topic. We get a lot of patients who come in and have either found incorrect information online, or were told by someone to just sit and rest until they feel better which may have caused a delay in their recovery.  In part 1, we’re going to briefly discuss 5 myths and misconceptions surrounding concussions.

  1. Concussions only happen from hits to the head.
    1. Although, one of the easiest ways to get a concussion is getting a hard hit directly to the head, this isn’t the only way for a concussion to occur. The mechanism of a concussion is an acceleration/deceleration of the brain (having the brain shaken up). Therefore, if enough force is sustained to the body (ie: hard body check in a contact sport) causing the head to shake back/forth or even a whiplash injury (ie: car accident) can all result in a concussion.
  2. Concussion is a bruise of the brain.
    1. This was a previous theory that suggested the brain smashes into the skull causing a bruise to either the front or back portion of the brain and a lot of times when you look up concussion, this is still the image that shows up. Technically this would be called a cerebral contusion and not a concussion. As mentioned previously, a concussion occurs when the brain is moved with force back/forth which causes axons to stretch and shear resulting in functional not structural damage.
  3. Concussions can be seen or diagnosed on an MRI or CT scan.
    1. This is also false. As noted in misconception #2, a concussion is a functional injury and so it changes how the brain functions but not how it visually appears. Therefore, if someone were to be referred for an MRI or CT scan, it would be to investigate a more significant injury such as the cerebral contusion, a brain bleed, or for skull fractures. If a concussion is diagnosed, then the images of the brain will appear “normal”.

Stay tuned for part 2!  If you have any questions regarding concussions or require an assessment, book online at or call 604-988-7080