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Is a concussion the same as a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) ?

Ottawa Personal Injury Lawyers David Hollingsworth:  Is a concussion the same as a mild traumatic brain injury   (TBI) ?

This is a common question.  Most people believe that a concussion isn’t as serious and  symptoms will come and go quickly; whereas a mild traumatic brain injury is more severe and lasts longer. The truth is they are known as the same in that a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury have same symptoms and can last a couple of days but may also extend and last a couple of years. Most people  recover from a concussion within a relatively short period of time; typically it ranges from a week to 3 months.  Concussions can also happen to anyone old or young and can result from all sorts of different activities including sports, falls, blows to the head etc..

We don’t know everything about concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries but we do know that the brain is made up of soft tissue and is surrounded by spinal fluid. The brain is protected (to some extent) by the skull. Inside the skull, the brain  moves about , sometimes hitting the skull. When the brain hits the inside of the skull it can become bruised, and may result in broken blood vessels, which results in injured  nerves and may lead to a concussion.

There are many ways  to grade or describe concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries. The severity of a concussion is determined by how long signs and symptoms last and so can only be known after someone has recovered. The longer the symptoms of changes in brain function, the more severe the concussion.

What causes the most confusion is the word “mild”. A mild traumatic brain injury can be anything but that. Up to 20% of people who suffer from a concussion suffer symptoms beyond the 3 month mark.  Everyone reacts differently to a concussion or MTBI ; however some common symptoms include:

  • post-traumatic headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • problems with balance
  • dizziness
  • cognitive impairments
  • extreme fatigue
  • depression
  • anxiety

Often times, people with a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury seem perfectly fine ; however they are severely suffering on the inside and are unable to participate in everyday activities.   Often times people with a concussion or mTBI are unable to work, be social or participate in many day-to-day activities they once loved doing.

When it comes to children and concussions , it gets even trickier, as children often are not in tune with their symptoms and may not be communicating their symptoms. A child with an undiagnosed concussion can be at serious risk for brain damage or a disability. If a child sustains a head injury, it must be taken seriously.  In sports in particular, a doctor needs to examine the child and decide when it would be best to have the child return to sports. Regardless of whether or not the child lost consciousness or not, it’s vital that parents, caregivers and coaches are on high alert and watching  for symptoms. Head injuries take time to heal..Don’t rush it.

When it comes to concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries, we must be extra vigilant.  As an Ottawa injury lawyer, I meet regularly with people whose lives have been turned upside down due to a head injury. For some , life may never be the same again. For more information on head injuries, concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries , visit www.ottawainjury.ca/brain-injuries.

 


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