As a child of the 1960s and 1970s, I can attest to a general lack of knowledge in society regarding traumatic brain injuries.
I vividly recall friends and fellow students being “knocked out” on the playground or playing sports. Adults simply used smelling salts to get the student to come around. The kid would go right back into the game or onto the playground, without another thought.
The word “concussion” was used liberally, but never the words “traumatic brain injury”. Those words were reserved for people in a coma.
We have come a long way in realizing the importance of identifying when a brain injury has occurred, and taking immediate action to minimize further brain damage.
Identifying Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
The American Congress of Rehabilitation defined MTBI in 1993, a breakthrough in understanding brain injuries:
A patient with mild traumatic brain injury is a person who has had
a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function…
“Concussion” is used interchangeably with the term “mild traumatic brain injury” (MTBI).
That is unfortunate: many people still believe a concussion is merely a “knock on the head” from which a person recovers quickly, and without any future problems.
But this is often not the case.
Mechanics of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
Bruising, tearing or swelling of the brain are the causes of an MTBI.
These can come from either a direct biomechanical force, such as:
- A blow to the head;
- Falling and striking the head on the ground; or
- Striking the head against a hard surface in a car
Or by an indirect force