The 10 Biggest Myths about Traumatic Brain Injuries

For a variety of reasons, there is a lot of misunderstanding about brain injuries and their effects on someone’s life. Unfortunately, many doctors who don’t specialize in this area are also under misconceptions which can lead to even more confusion or worry among patients struggling with such injuries. The misunderstanding comes from the fact that a brain injury doesn’t always show the same signs from one person to another. Also, brain injuries usually do not show up on imaging or tests.

There are several common myths about Traumatic Brain Injuries. Some of these came from outdated research, but others are just bad conventional wisdom from doctors and the general public. Here is a list of the 10 biggest myths we’ve seen through our experiencing helping victims of traumatic brain injuries for many years:

1. Mild traumatic brain injuries go away quickly

In the past, science has thought that while severe TBI will result in permanent problems, mild brain injury has no lasting symptoms. Unfortunately, we now know that this isn’t necessarily true. Although many will recover from cognitive problems within three months of suffering mild traumatic brain injury, others have continue to suffer from things like memory loss, fatigue, slow processing for years (or even permanently in some cases).

2. All people with traumatic brain injuries have the same symptoms

Traumatic brain injuries will affect different areas of the brain in different people. Because of this, there is no standard set of symptoms for patients. The resulting symptoms will vary depending on things like the person’s age, sex, physical condition, and type and location of the trauma to the brain.

3. Traumatic brain injury symptoms will show up right away

Immediately after a head injury, a patient might complain of physical symptoms, such as headache and nausea or vomiting, without having any neurological deficits. Often any cognitive problems will not begin to reveal themselves until several hour or even days after the injury and only become apparent in certain tasks or environments.

4. A traumatic brain injury is caused on my a direct head impact

Most people think that a brain injury can only be caused by the head to be struck by a person or an object, but this isn’t true. Newer research shows that fast acceleration and deceleration of the head, such as in a car accident, can cause injury when the brain impacts the inside of the skull.

5. Traumatic brain injury only occurs when someone is knocked unconscious

Many people who suffer head injuries will lose consciousness for seconds or minutes. Others are only dazed for longer periods, especially with milder brain injury. If accompanied with symptoms like nausea and vomiting, this early feelings of fogginess will often be indicative of a mild traumatic brain injury and a post-concussion syndrome that includes problems with cognition, emotion, and perception may occur.

6. A traumatic brain injury means you have a lower IQ

In the past, psychologists have declared patients to be recovered because they showed normal results on IQ tests. However, IQ testing only covers a narrow range of cognitive abilities. Many deficits that affect daily functioning aren’t measured by IQ tests and require specialized testing to reveal.

7. Brain injuries can always be detected with imaging like CT scans and MRIs:

This is unfortunately a misconception among the many doctors and the public alike. Modern imaging technology doesn’t usually detect brain injuries, especially in mild cases. Many patients with documented cognitive issues from a brain injury will show no abnormalities on these scans. For these reasons, lack of visual proof mean little for a mild traumatic brain injury.

8. Neuropsychological testing is only based on opinion

Given the lack of imaging availability, perhaps the most sensitive test for detecting a brain injury will be something called neuropsychological testing. It is typically conducted by a neuropsychologist and is seen as the most objective process to diagnose a wide range of cognitive issues in traumatic brain injury patients. This testing can reveal deficits that aren’t easily noticed otherwise and is useful for measuring changes in cognition over time.

9. Children are likely to make a full recovery from brain injuries

This idea is based on the now-defunct idea that brain plasticity only occurs in children. We now know that their ability to rebound is on par with adults. Unfortunately, children don’t always show subtle cognitive problems immediately. They’re less likely to lose consciousness compared to adults, and research has shown that TBI can affect maturation of the brain.

10. Mild traumatic brain injuries don’t effect your life too much  

Mild traumatic brain injury can cause significant problems in a person’s life. Brain injuries can have a detrimental effect on all aspects of a person’s life; such patients are at including greater risk of mental illness, problems with employability, higher rates of substance abuse, and disruption of relationships. People suffering from mild TBI may suffer from these issues for many years after being injured.

If you or your loved one is struggling with a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion, and have questions, feel free to contact an experienced brain injury lawyer at Valent Legal for a no-cost consultation – 902-443-4488 or . There are also may societies, like the Brain Injury Association of Canada, who help provide supports for those suffering from a traumatic brain injury.


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