Dr. Benjamin Moorehead

Concussions are no joke: After a hit on the head, brain cells can be damaged, and the brain may change chemically causing a form of traumatic brain injury. WVU Medicine sports medicine physician Benjamin Moorehead, MD, gives you the facts about concussions.

1. You don’t have to black out to experience a concussion.
It’s a common misconception that a person must lose consciousness to have a concussion. Any of these symptoms or a combination may indicate that someone has suffered a concussion:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Significant changes in mood or irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vision changes

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, call your doctor as soon as possible.

2. You may not experience concussion symptoms right away.
Symptoms from a concussion may occur immediately, which makes it easier to identify from the sidelines, but some symptoms may be delayed. Changes in the brain cells can occur over days, weeks, or months. Symptoms may persist, improve, or worsen depending on how quickly a concussion is diagnosed and treated.

3. A concussion may occur without a blow to the head.
Any hard or fast impact on the body can affect the brain, even if there’s no direct head contact. Athletes should be examined for a concussion after any physical impact or collision.

4. Protective sports gear does not prevent a concussion.
Protective gear is designed to help prevent many injuries, which makes it very important to wear, but even the most modern, high-tech equipment can’t fully protect an athlete’s brain.

5. Anyone can experience a concussion, not just athletes.
Any athlete is at risk for a concussion, but so is the average person who may experience a hard or fast impact on the body. Know the symptoms, and seek treatment if you are affected.

Take this quiz to learn more: What do you know about concussions?