Myths of Traumatic Brain Injury


Myth 1: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is Not Serious

Traumatic brain injury is broken down into three categories. Severe, moderate, and mild. The word mild does the disservice of making the injury seem insignificant when the initial classification “mild” only speaks to the initial neurological severity and has no correlation with the degree of short or long-term impairment or functional disability.

Myth 2: Loss of Consciousness is Necessary to Sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury

It is a misconception that for a force to cause traumatic brain injury, it must be sufficient to cause loss of consciousness. Mild TBI is associated with either a loss of consciousness of  20 minutes or less, or no loss of consciousness at all, and can be presented through symptoms other than complete loss of consciousness.

Myth 3: One Must Strike One’s Head in Order to Suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury

It is common for us to think that something must hit the head to receive a TBI, but our brain is the consistency of Jell-O surrounded by the skull, so any quick accelerating or deacceleration can cause the brain to move and hit the skull, damaging the area of impact.

Myth 4: Negative MRIs, CT Scans, and EEGs Rule Out Brain Injury

There is a belief that if these sorts of sophisticated tests come back normal, no brain injury was sustained, However, many patients with a history of minor brain injury will not have abnormalities on these sorts of tests, but demonstrate functional impairment on neuropsychological measures.

Myth 5: The Effects of TBI are Immediate

It is a misconception that you should immediately be aware of a brain injury as soon as it happens. It is possible that the effects of a TBI show up much later. Furthermore, there may be delays in recognizing the severity of certain symptoms. For example, executive dysfunction may only become obvious after returning to the workplace.

Myth 6: Neuropsychological Testing is Subjective

Because MRIs, CT Scans, and EEGs cannot catch every traumatic brain injury, the only objective testing is neuropsychological testing. Because this sort of testing requires that the patient gives their best efforts, some doctors argue that neuropsychological testing is subjective, not objective. However, this viewpoint has been rejected by mainstream medicine.

Myth 7: Cognitive Impairments on Neuropsychological Testing Must Fit a Predictable Pattern

Some patients are accused of faking TBI symptoms or suffering from something other than a brain injury because the symptoms do not match with any predictable pattern. This is a myth. Symptoms depend on the nature, extent, location, and duration of the lesion, and even people with similar lesion injuries present differently because TBI symptoms vary depending on age, sex, physical condition, and psychosocial background. There is no pattern of symptoms, nor a time frame that patients predictable follow.

Myth 8: Children with Traumatic Brain Injury All Get Better

It is believed that a child’s plasticity of the brain is the reason for traumatic brain injuries to heal. Unfortunately, an injury to an undeveloped brain means the brain may not develop as normal and may cause neurological or psychiatric problems that will affect the child for life. These problems may not present themselves immediately due to the immaturity of the brain.

Myth 9: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is Not Permanent

For many patients, symptoms of a TBI resolve after a few months. However, for some patients, recovery may be slower or remain incomplete. Mild brain injury results in measurable deficits in attention, speed of information processing, and/or memory that may carry on far after the initial injury. In certain cases, patients develop a chronic case of signs and symptoms known as chronic post-concussive syndrome.

Myth 10: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is Not Disabling

Mild traumatic brain injury can be disabling due to cognitive impairments, physical symptoms, emotional/psychiatric symptoms, and fatigue.

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