What is a mild traumatic brain injury?

The term mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is used interchangeably with the term concussion. An MTBI or concussion is defined as a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces secondary to direct or indirect forces to the head. MTBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts to function of the brain. This disturbance of brain function is typically associated with normal structural neuroimaging findings, a CT scan or MRI. MTBI results in a constellation of physical, cognitive, emotional and/or sleep-related symptoms and may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. Duration of symptoms may last from several minutes to days, weeks, months, or even longer in some cases.
 
  • An estimated 75%-90% of the 1.4 million traumatic brain injury-related deaths, hospitalizations and emergency visits that occur each year are concussions or other forms of MTBI.
  • Approximately 1.6-3.8 million sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States each year. Most of these are MTBIs that are not treated in a hospital or emergency department.
  • Blasts are an important cause of MTBI among military personnel in war zones.
  • Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity from MTBI totaled a estimated $12 billion in the United States in 2000.
  • Individuals with a history of concussion are at an increased risk of sustaining a subsequent concussion.
  • Duration of symptoms is highly variable and may last from several minutes to days, weeks, months, or even longer in some cases. Research shows that recovery time may be longer for children and adolescents.
  • Symptoms or deficits that continue beyond three months may be a sign of post-concussion syndrome.
  • With proper diagnosis and management, most patients with MTBI recover fully.

Signs and Symptoms
 
  • Physical: headache, nausea, vomiting, balance problems, dizziness, visual problems, fatigue, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, numbness/tingling, dazed or stunned.
  • Cognitive: feeling mentally "foggy", feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering, forgetful of recent information or conversations, confused about recent events, answers questions slowly, repeats questions.
  • Emotional: Irritability, sadness, more emotional, nervousness.
  • Sleep: drowsiness, sleeping more than usual, sleeping less than usual, trouble falling asleep. 

Leading Causes of MTBI
 
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle trauma
  • Unintentionally struck by/against events
  • Assaults
  • Sports
Groups at highest risk for MBTI
 
  • Infants and children ages 0-4
  • Children and young adults ages 5 to 24
  • Older adults ages 75 or older