Can You Get a Concussion Without Hitting Your Head?

Can You Get a Concussion Without Hitting Your Head? To answer the question right up front: Yes, you can. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by any external force—a bump, blow, or jolt—that causes the brain (inside the skull) to twist, deform, or shake, resulting in changes to the victim’s brain chemistry and, potentially, damage brain cells and impair brain function. It is a common misconception that you can only get a concussion if you hit your head. That is not true. A strong blow to the body can easily impart the jarring impact necessary to rattle the brain and result in a concussion, even if the head itself does not take a direct hit. Let’s explore common ways a concussion can happen without hitting your head, other common myths and misconceptions about concussions, and additional information you need to know about this potentially-devastating injury.

Common Causes of Concussion Without Hitting Your Head

Our bodies can sustain impacts, blows, and jolts in a virtually unlimited array of circumstances, any of which could cause a concussion. Among the most common of those are:
  • Motor vehicle accidents, especially front-end and rear-end collisions in which a passenger's head snaps back and forth, but does not collide with the dashboard, steering wheel, or other car surface.
  • Falls on hard surfaces or from heights, such as slipping and falling on a wet tile floor, or taking a tumble from playground equipment;
  • Participating in contact or high-impact sports, including football, soccer, lacrosse, and gymnastics;
  • Explosions and concussive blasts, such as those construction workers or soldiers may experience; and
  • Physical assaults involving shaking, pushing, and hitting.

Concussion Myths and Misconceptions

Myths and misconceptions about concussions can prevent victims from getting the care and treatment they need. Let’s bust some of the other most persistent ones. Myth: If you didn’t lose consciousness, then you don’t have a concussion. Fact: Concussions usually don’t cause a loss of consciousness, according to UVA Health. A sustained loss of consciousness (minutes or more) could signal a dangerous traumatic brain injury. Myth: “Seeing stars” or “getting your bell rung” is a normal part of playing sports and horsing around, and you can play through it just fine. Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visual disturbances and feeling dazed after suffering an impact are two common symptoms of a concussion that you should take seriously. In particular, athletes who experience these symptoms should stop playing immediately and go through a standard concussion protocol (such as the one recommended by the Virginia Department of Education) before being allowed to return to action. Myth: Young children fall all the time and they seem fine, so they must not get concussions. Fact: As the Children’s Hospital of Richmond explains, young children can, and do, suffer concussions in falls and other incidents. In fact, a concussion can cause potentially serious harm to a child’s developing brain. It can also be hard for parents to spot a concussion, because young children sometimes lack the vocabulary or self-awareness to describe their symptoms. Myth: If I get a concussion, then I either shouldn’t go to sleep or someone needs to wake me up every hour/half-hour/15 minutes. Fact: It was once widely believed that concussion victims needed to be kept awake to prevent them from slipping into a coma. Today, however, the medical community recognizes that, with rare exceptions, rest and sleep after a concussion aren’t just okay, they’re essential for your brain to heal from a concussion.

Concussions Are Serious Brain Injuries

Finally, let’s dispel the biggest myth of all about concussions. Myth: Everybody gets concussions. They’re no big deal. I don’t need to see a doctor about one. I can just shake it off and move on with my life. Fact: Concussions are real traumatic brain injuries that expose victims to potentially serious, long-term health consequences. All concussions need immediate medical attention. Never, ever take a concussion lightly. Some concussion victims may recover if they get proper care and rest. Some, however, will not recover as easily (particularly if they do not seek immediate medical care), and may instead suffer from a constellation of long-lasting, life-disrupting symptoms that may include:
  • Headaches;
  • Brain fog and difficulty concentrating;
  • Short and long-term memory lapses;
  • Mood changes, including depression and irritability;
  • Light and sound sensitivity;
  • Vision problems;
  • Persistent fatigue;
  • Changes in sleep patterns and disrupted sleep; and
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Doctors sometimes refer to this evolving set of symptoms as post-concussion (or post-concussive) syndrome. Suffering one concussion increases a person’s risk for suffering a second concussion, particularly when the brain is still healing from the first. Additionally, researchers have recently identified a strong connection between repeated concussions (or just microtraumas) early in life and developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, later in life. In other words, take a concussion seriously. They can have a potentially profound, negative effect on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Always seek medical care after sustaining any violent blow to your head or body, particularly if it leaves you feeling woozy, lightheaded, or out-of-sorts. Research shows that early concussion treatment can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, and can enhance your chances of making a full recovery.

Seeking Compensation for the Effects of a Concussion

Increased awareness of the potential medical and health complications of concussions should also motivate you to seek legal advice if a concussion results from someone else’s careless or reckless actions. You deserve compensation for the costs and harmful effects a concussion has inflicted on your life. An experienced traumatic brain injury attorney can help you secure it. Consult one today for more information about your rights.

William B. Kilduff


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