Common misconceptions about traumatic brain injuries (TBI) continue discouraging people from seeking appropriate medical care after car and truck crashes, falls and medical errors. Beliefs that “getting your bell rung” is no big deal or that only skull fractures are associated with TBIs prolong individuals’ suffering and prevent victims of other people’s negligence from receiving due compensation via insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits.

As Virginia Beach-based attorneys who have spent decades advising and representing clients with TBIs, we wage a seemingly unending battle against dangerous and harmful brain injury myths. Here, we strive to dispel, once and for all, four of the most pernicious misunderstandings about brain injuries.


Myth #1: A concussion is not serious and does not cause any long-term problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions titles its main webpage on this subject “Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion.” The world’s foremost public health specialists do not draw sharp distinctions between concussions and TBIs. Neither should members of the general public.

Saying, “It was just a concussion,” is no different from saying, “I do not care about the organ that controls all my mental and biological functions, as well as my emotions and ability to communicate, learn and remember.” When the brain suffers a physical injury, the negative effects on health and wellbeing can last for weeks, months or years.

Myth #2: You have to hit your head to suffer a brain injury.

One of our most heartbreaking cases involved a young man who became permanently disabled after more than one doctor failed to correctly diagnosis and appropriately treat his fungal meningitis. The infection irreparably damaged our client’s brain even though the condition can be treated successfully when it is detected early.

Hypoxic brain injuries resulting from near-drownings, errors by anesthesiologists and interruptions of the flow of oxygen to newborns during labor and delivery also occur too frequently.

Myth #3 Children heal better from brain injuries than adults.

Allow us to quote the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

Falls are the most common cause of TBIs and occur most frequently among the youngest and oldest age groups. From 2006 to 2010 alone, falls caused more than half (55 percent) of TBIs among children aged 14 and younger. Among Americans age 65 and older, falls accounted for more than two-thirds (81 percent) of all reported TBIs.
   The second and third most common causes of TBI are unintentional blunt trauma (accidents that involved being struck by or against an object), followed closely by motor vehicle accidents.

Since children’s brains are still developing, the changes wrought by a TBI are likely to leave them dealing with behavioral, learning and emotional problems for the rest of their lives.

Myth #4: If I didn’t lose consciousness, I don’t have a brain injury.

It is not uncommon for the worst symptoms of a TBI to manifest hours or days after a blow to the head or a concussive blast. Putting off a visit to the emergency room or family doctor just because you never passed out or saw any blood can mean that symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches and loss of coordination hit worse and last longer.

Do not buy the myths. Take every head and brain injury seriously.