In the United States, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of injury deaths. It contributes to around 30% of injury deaths. As traumatic brain injury (TBI) is considered an ‘invisible’ or ‘silent’ injury, many myths and misinformation float around on the internet. With the rapidly evolving neurological research field, such information regarding TBI gets outdated or disproven with scientific advancements.
Common misconceptions/myths about TBI and facts
Although it is challenging to keep up with the latest advancements, addressing common misconceptions and myths regarding TBI is crucial. Getting our facts straight is essential to achieving the best possible outcomes.
A concussion isn’t serious:
A concussion is a brain injury that needs immediate medical attention and should never be ignored. Generally, a concussion is considered a mild TBI and is not life-threatening. However, in rare cases, concussions can be serious and are moderate to severe TBIs. A severe concussion can cause head discomfort, cognitive impairment, etc. Most people recover from a concussion in about a few weeks. However, some people may experience long-lasting effects for the rest of their lives, especially in cases of repeated head trauma.
No loss of consciousness, no traumatic brain injury:
Many people believe that if a person does not lose consciousness or pass out, there is no serious injury. People who have sustained a mild TBI do not always pass out but may have other symptoms like vision changes, disorientation, dizziness, nausea, or headaches.
One must hit the head to have a TBI:
This is one of the most common misconceptions. However, the fact is that one can sustain a traumatic brain injury without getting hit on the head. TBI can occur during acceleration and deceleration in a motor crash which causes serious injury to the delicate brain structures. The external force violently shakes the brain inside the skull and leads to TBI.
Concussions are sports-related:
Anyone can sustain a traumatic brain injury, and concussions aren’t exclusive to sportspeople/athletes. A concussion can also result from vehicle crashes, blast injuries, falls, gunshots, domestic violence, or other physical trauma.
No sleep for TBI patients:
Another common myth is a TBI patient should not go to sleep or that someone needs to keep the TBI patient awake for 24 hours after a concussion. Rest and sleep are essential for those who have sustained a TBI. Get a medical evaluation, let doctors assess the injury, and follow their instructions.
Imaging tests can detect all types of brain injuries:
CT and MRI scans help to identify brain bleeds, skull fractures, and other types of acute trauma. However, not all injuries like concussions appear on such imaging tests. Moreover, such injuries do not constantly occur in the scans. Hence, it is crucial to carry out other additional tests.
TBI symptoms worsen over time:
The fact is TBI symptoms gradually improve over 6-12 months post-injury. The symptoms are worst at the time of TBI, and recovery depends on the severity of the injury. If symptoms of TBI persist after a year or worsen over time, then it generally means that there is some other underlying issue that needs attention.
TBI changes personality traits and emotional needs:
Traumatic brain injury does not alter basic emotional needs. Primary needs, like feeling loved, useful, etc., remain the same regardless of the injury. However, it is different for personality traits. A person who was mild-mannered before the injury may become more mild-mannered, while an aggressive personality may tend to become more aggressive.
Why is consulting a trained medical professional important?
About 20% brain-injury survivors attempt suicide or experience thoughts of taking their own life during the initial five years after TBI. The risk of suicide increases with long-term disability and changes in personality, brain, and lifestyle after the injury. In addition, TBI survivors typically present a combination of communicative, cognitive, physical, sensory, and social problems, which require input from a trained medical professional.
Also, the myths surrounding TBI can affect the patient and their family enormously. Therefore, understanding that each traumatic brain injury is different and needs to be addressed appropriately is essential. In addition, getting a consultation from a trained medical professional is crucial to debunk the TBI myths and focusing on recovery and the upkeep of health.
There are various misconceptions and myths about traumatic brain injury, its effects, treatment, and recovery. Consult your doctor; get the correct information, heal through evidence-based medicine, and make informed decisions.