Concussion v. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Which people suffer long term problems following a bump on the head?  We frequently have to answer that question at Atlanta Hyperbaric and the current use of medical terms may add to the confusion.  At Atlanta Hyperbaric, we follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for the definition of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (table.)

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Courtesy,  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The occurrence of injury to the head arising from blunt trauma or acceleration deceleration forces with one or more of the following conditions attributable to the head injury:

Any period of observed or self-reported:

• Transient confusion, disorientation, or impaired consciousness;
• Dysfunction of memory around the time of injury; or
• Loss of consciousness lasting less than 30 minutes.

Any period of observed or self-reported:

• Seizures acutely following injury to the head;
• Irritability, lethargy, or vomiting following head injury, especially among infants and very young children; or
• Headache, dizziness, irritability, fatigue, or poor concentration, especially
among older children and adults.

Observed signs of other neurological or neuropsychological dysfunction, such as:

• Seizures acutely following injury to the head;
• Irritability, lethargy, or vomiting following head injury, especially among infants and very young children; or
• Headache, dizziness, irritability, fatigue, or poor concentration, especially among older children and adults

According to CDC, traumatic brain injury occurs 1.5 million times annually, with 50,000 deaths and 230,000 hospitalizations. Patients with mild traumatic brain injuries frequently suffer long-term memory problems as well as psychological and personality changes. At Atlanta Hyperbaric we aim to prevent and reverse these symptoms.

The real problem at Atlanta Hyperbaric comes up when someone says they had a concussion. Although concussion is also a medical term of art with a consensus definition that the CDC publishes, many patients and physicians use the terms “concussion” and “mild traumatic brain injury” interchangeably, and some use these terms in a confusing manner that suggests that a concussion is nothing to be concerned about.

This week I came across an interesting study that addressed this very issue. Among children admitted for a traumatic brain injury, those who were told they had a concussion were discharged significantly earlier and returned to school sooner than those who were not given the label. The authors concluded, “We suggest that the [concussion] label itself conveys a message and also directs outcomes….If we want to encourage full reporting with subsequent adequate management and convalescence, perhaps we should use the term ‘mild traumatic brain injury.'”

Some experts disagreed with this conclusion and I can understand why some would consider the whole issue a tempest in a teapot. I don’t. Hyperbaric oxygen helps these patients avoid long-term consequences. If telling parents that their child suffered a mild traumatic brain injury rather than a “mere” concussion helps to encourage further diagnosis and treatment, then let’s call a spade a spade.

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About Public Protection Lawyer

lawyer and physician
This entry was posted in Hyperbaric Medicine, traumatic brain injury. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Concussion v. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

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