April 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM ET
On Monday night's live episode of "Dancing With the Stars," actress-turned-ballroom-hopeful Melissa Gilbert traded the dance floor for a hospital bed following a mysterious injury. Before the evening was over, Gilbert took to her Twitter account to reveal she sustained a "mild concussion and whiplash" during the show.
But exactly when that injury occurred is now the stuff of intense fan debate.
Gilbert's rep confirmed to Access Hollywood that the injury happened when the former "Little House on the Prairie" star hit her head on the ballroom floor. That's in line with what some of Gilbert's "Dancing" co-stars had to say.
"She hit her head during her dance, and then after she felt a little dizzy so they took her to the hospital just to get checked out and make sure she was okay," actress and comedienne Sherri Shepherd told Us Weekly.
It was a similar story from rocker Gavin DeGraw, who told XfinityTV that "it seemed like she had hit the back of her head. I guess she may have hit the floor at some point during the dance. We put an ice pack on her head.”
So, with such a star-studded consensus, what is there to debate about the blow? According to some eagle-eyed "Dancing" viewers, the debate is ultimately about whether it happened at all.
While Gilbert's partner, ballroom bad boy Maksim Chmerkovskiy, can be seen taking a tumble during the passionate paso doble routine, there's no moment from Monday night's clip that clearly shows Gilbert's head meeting the floor.
Sure, one Zaprudering "Dancing" enthusiast on Television Without Pity's forums recounted a couple of moments in which something could have occurred.
"Two possible times -- early on, Maks lays her on the floor after a sort of almost-horizontal half-spin, steps over her head, then pulls her up again," forum user Serendi wrote. "It didn't look like it was then -- her head looked like she held it up -- but it was hard to be sure, because their names and phone number were on screen overlaying her head. Second time, almost at the end, he lowers and spins her and she might have hit her head on his knee."
As far as Clicker reader Heather Pearson is concerned, it simply didn't happen.
"I did not see her hit her head even after watching it several times," Pearson wrote to The Clicker's Facebook page. "Her head didn't even touch the floor. Didn't look dizzy when she ran off the stage and up those stairs either... sounds fake to me."
But one’s head doesn't actually have to hit a surface in order to cause a concussion, says TODAY.com contributor Linda Carroll, co-author of “The Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemic."
“You can get a concussion without ever hitting your head,” Carroll told TODAY.com. “One analogy I like to use is your brain is like a passenger in a car riding without a seat belt. The car slams to a stop and the passenger slams into the windshield. Similarly, if you're tackled in football and suddenly come to a stop, your brain keeps moving … and can slam into the skull.”
Carroll said she watched the episode with her young daughter, and both of them were wondering which move could have caused Gilbert's concussion.
Even without a visible moment of impact, it's not hard to see how Gilbert could have waltzed away with injuries after performing her strongest routine yet. The paso doble is a powerful dance, filled with fast, snap-to holds and jarring floor spins. Given the actress's health history (in 2010, she underwent spinal surgery after she broke her back while performing in the "Little House on the Prairie" musical), a dance-floor pain isn't hard to explain.
Of course, barring any new footage featuring an as-yet-unseen angle, it's likely fans will never get a good look at just what happened to the star, but here's hoping the injuries she sustained won't keep them from seeing more of her on the show.
Take a close look at the video above and tell us your theory on Gilbert's injury? Do you think it will hold her back, or will she have a comeback next week? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. And don't forget to join me and Anna Chan for our weekly chat at 3:30 ET Tuesday!