Expertly Reviewed By: Serah Waweru, Esq., on April 12, 2023
Can I get a concussion without hitting head? This is a common question most people ask, especially when they fear that there is a chance they might have developed a concussion from an injury that didn’t involve a blow to the head. Although it is widely believed that a concussion can only result from a blow to the head, this notion is not entirely accurate. In reality, it is possible to suffer from a concussion without any direct head impact.
Regrettably, this misconception often leads people to overlook the signs of a concussion and neglect to seek appropriate medical attention. To help you stay informed and safe, here are five essential facts about getting a concussion without head trauma.
1. Yes, You Can Get a Concussion Without Hitting Your Head
Getting a concussion without hitting your head is what experts call a “non-impact” or “non-contact” concussion. While a direct hit to the head is the primary cause of concussions, it is also possible to experience this type of injury in other ways.
So, can you get a concussion without hitting your head? Yes, you can. Here are examples of situations or conditions that could lead to a concussion.
- Whiplash injuries
- Blast waves
- Rapid changes in Motion
- Body shock
- Certain medical conditions, such as seizures or strokes.
2. Concussions Are Serious Brain Injuries
Concussions are often considered less severe than other types of brain injuries but are still serious and can cause long-term effects on a person’s health and well-being.
They can cause a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms, which may include but are not limited to the following:
- memory problems
- difficulty concentrating
These symptoms may last long after the injury.
Concussions also increase the risk of long-term health problems, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that can cause memory loss, confusion, and mood changes. CTE derives from repeated head injuries, including concussions, and has been found in many athletes and military veterans.
Finally, concussions are serious because they can be difficult to diagnose and manage. This can lead to delayed treatment and an increased risk of complications or long-term effects.
3. Concussions Don’t Usually Show Up in MRI Scans
Although an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan can help detect brain injuries and abnormalities, it is not always the most effective method for diagnosing a concussion.
This is primarily because concussions do not typically cause structural damage to the brain. Instead, they result from the sudden movement of the brain inside the skull, disrupting normal brain function. Therefore, while an MRI can help identify more severe brain injuries, it may not show the subtle changes in brain function that occur with a concussion.
Also, MRI scans typically do not provide a real-time depiction of the effects of a concussion because the symptoms may not manifest until several hours or days after the initial impact. By the time an MRI scan is conducted, the brain may have already started to recover.
Moreover, any alterations or irregularities in brain function that occurred may no longer be apparent. For this reason, other tests, such as a neurological examination and cognitive assessment, are more effective in detecting the subtle changes in the brain due to a concussion.
4. Concussion Symptoms Do Not Usually Appear Immediately
Symptoms may be noticeable immediately. However, others may take a while to develop, making it difficult to identify and diagnose a concussion, especially if the injury is not recognized or reported.
So why do concussion symptoms take time to show?
Experts have explained that concussions cause chemical changes in the brain and disrupt normal brain function. However, these effects may not be instantly apparent, particularly in mild cases or if the injured individual is unaware of the symptoms.
Other injuries or conditions could mask some concussion symptoms. Take, for example, an individual with a neck injury or a broken bone. Such a person may not notice the symptoms of a concussion immediately.
Similarly, an individual with a history of migraines or anxiety may also not tell if they’ve suffered a concussion. Instead, they may confuse it with their already existing symptoms.
It is worth mentioning that even if concussion symptoms do not appear immediately, they can still be serious and require medical attention. Delayed symptoms may also be a sign of a more severe injury, such as a subdural hematoma, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
5. You Can Get a Concussion Without ‘Blacking Out’
One common misconception about concussions is that you must lose consciousness or “black out” as a result. However, this is untrue; you can have a concussion without losing consciousness.
In fact, the majority of people who suffer from a concussion do not lose consciousness at all. Instead, they may experience different symptoms, such as those mentioned earlier in this article. These symptoms vary in severity and may develop over time.
While losing consciousness is one possible symptom of a concussion, it is not necessary. Some people may experience a brief loss of consciousness, while others may remain conscious throughout the injury. In some cases, a person may not even realize they have suffered a concussion until later when symptoms develop. The most important thing to note is that even if you do not lose consciousness, you may still have a concussion and require medical attention.
Bottomline: Can I Get a Concussion Without Hitting Head?
To answer the question, “Can I get a concussion without hitting my head?”, the answer is YES, you can. That’s why you need immediate medical attention when you suffer any high-impact injury. Remember that concussions often lead to long-term health complications, so you shouldn’t ignore them. The earlier you seek medical attention, the better.