As a parent, you’re all too familiar with the myths you tell your children to persuade them to do what you want. For example, you might tell your daughter to eat her Brussel sprouts if she wants curly hair. Or for your son, you might mention that if he crosses his eyes too much, they will stay permanently crossed. While these myths are relatively harmless, other myths can do far more damage.

There are certain falsehoods that you and your children might still believe regarding their health, more specifically their brain health and how it relates to concussions. With the rate and the conversations about these traumatic brain injuries on the rise, the myths regarding concussions abound. Not knowing fact from fiction about concussions could mean the difference between a sound recovery and permanent brain damage.

Myth #1: You have to be hit in the head to sustain a concussion.

False. While the majority of concussions do involve a blow to the head or hitting the head on or against an object, this isn’t always the case. It is possible to sustain a concussion if the head moves rapidly or changes direction quickly. An example might be a football player who is running full speed in one direction and is tackled in the chest. The impact abruptly stops his forward momentum causing his head to snap forward quickly.

Myth #2: You have to be knocked out to sustain a concussion.

False. Fewer than 10 percent of concussions result in the person being knocked unconscious. And signs and symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person. In some cases, your child might only experience a headache, but if it occurs after a blow to the head, that could be a sign of a concussion. In the same vein, if your child does lose consciousness after a blow to the head, it’s safe to say he or she has suffered a concussion.

Myth #3: A concussion is simply a bruised brain.

False. A concussion is a functional injury, meaning it affects how the brain works. This explains why concussion sufferers have difficulty remembering, trouble reasoning and concentrating, and generally feel sluggish. If your child tells you that they just got ‘their bell rung’ or ‘got dinged,’ these are indications that they were probably hit in the head. As a parent, this type of explanation should not be treated lightly, and your child needs to be evaluated by a doctor promptly.

Myth #4: The symptoms of a concussion begin as soon as the athlete is hit on the head.

Not always. The symptoms of a concussion may begin immediately after your child suffers a head injury, but they could also emerge 24 to 48 hours later. An athlete might sustain a head injury and walk off the field feeling fine. However, they might experience nausea and sensitivity to light, symptoms common for concussion, the next morning.

Myth #5: The concussion CT scan came back normal, so my child can return to play.

False. Remember, a concussion is a functional brain injury so the damage cannot be spotted on a CT scan (also known as a CAT scan). Nor can a concussion be seen on an X-ray or MRI. These types of diagnostic tests are used to determine if your child is suffering from further complications of a concussion, such as bleeding in the brain. Diagnosing a concussion depends on the how the injury was sustained and the signs and symptoms your child exhibits.

Myth #6: My child’s headache is gone. It’s safe for them to return to play.

False. A headache is only one of the many symptoms of a concussion. There are a variety of other symptoms that can persist even after your child’s headache abates. In fact, the symptoms of a concussion can completely disappear after one week, but the brain may still take many weeks to heal. This is where post-concussive cognitive testing is helpful in determining how your child’s brain is healing, provided he or she has already undergone cognitive baseline testing. While this type of testing isn’t the only determining factor in a child’s return-to-play decision, it is incredibly helpful. Ultimately, it’s the doctor that makes the final judgement on whether your child may resume normal activities.

Myth #7: There is protective equipment that can prevent concussions.

False. There is no scientific evidence that any specific piece of equipment can prevent a concussion. However, there are certain helmets, add-ons and other head gear that can lessen the impact of a concussion. Whether it’s for hockey, football or even baseball, helmets are designed to prevent skull fractures — not concussions. This doesn’t mean that you should discard your child’s helmet. On the contrary, a properly fitted helmet should be worn at all times when playing certain sports to ensure your child’s head is protected.

The greatest myth of all…

The myths listed above are only some of the most common falsehoods about concussions and post-concussion care. Perhaps the most important myth that must be discredited is myth number eight: a child’s brain is similar to that of an adult’s.

False. The human brain continues to develop until a person reaches age 25. This explains why adults can recover from concussions much sooner than children. This is also the reason why young people are far more prone to this type of traumatic brain injury than adults. As a parent, it is your obligation to ensure that you know fact from fiction regarding concussions, so that your child can play safely and securely.