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Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Physicians can play a key role in helping to prevent mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI or concussion) and in appropriately identifying, diagnosing, and manag­ ing it when it does occur. Physicians can also improve patient outcomes when MTBI is suspected or diagnosed by implementing early management and appropriate referral. MTBI symptoms may appear mild, but can lead to signifi­ cant, life-long impairment affecting an individual’s ability to function physically, cognitively, and psychologically. Appropriate diagnosis, referral, and patient and family/caregiver education are critical for helping patients with MTBI achieve optimal recovery and to reduce or avoid significant sequelae. 

Definition of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) 

The term mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is used interchangeably with the term concussion. An MTBI or concussion is defined as a complex patho­ physiologic process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechani­ cal forces secondary to direct or indirect forces to the head. MTBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the function of the brain. This disturbance of brain function is typically associated with normal structural neuroimaging findings (i.e., CT scan, 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 (LOC). Duration of symptoms is highly variable and may last from several minutes to days, weeks, months, or even longer in some cases. 

(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention )