What is traumatic brain injury?
In its mildest form traumatic brain injury (TBI) mean a mild concussion. Complete recovery can be expected in a number of weeks in most cases. Severe brain injury usually implies loss of consciousness or post traumatic amnesia of more than 1 day. Recovery is unlikely to be complete. Brain injuries can range from mild concussions to severe and completely disabling injuries.
Ongoing symptoms associated with TBI typically include memory loss, personality changes, difficulties with attention and concentration, dizziness and depression.
TBI can occur in the absence of a direct blow to the head. Shaken baby syndrome is an example of TBI without head contact.
Doctors tend to categorize brain injuries as mild, moderate, or severe. This relates to the initial severity of the injury based on factors like loss of consciousness and has nothing to do with patient outcome. While most people with a mild TBI fully recover, scientific literature suggests that 10 to 20% of patients with TBI go on to have long standing problems. A higher percentage of those with moderate to severe TBI’s have permanent problems although some patients with even severe TBI apparently recover fully.
There is no single definition of what constitutes mild TBI. However, a widely used definition denotes mild TBI as:
- any period of loss of consciousness;
- any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident;
- any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident (e.g., feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused); and
- focal neurological deficit(s) that may or may not be transient.
But where the severity of the injury does not exceed the following:
- post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) not greater than 24 hours.
- after 30 minutes, an initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 13-15; and
- loss of consciousness of approximately 30 minutes or less1.
We believe that there is no such thing as a mild TBI if the effects are long lasting. If you have sustained a TBI there are a number of medical specialists who will typically investigate you including neurologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists and maybe more. In most cases it will be necessary to arrange magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your head to look for visible signs of injury to the brain. However, since most of the damage to a brain is typically microscopic, a normal MRI does not rule out a TBI.
You may also need assistance from other experts in the filed of TBI including speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, or psychologists. We will work with you and your doctor and ICBC to ensure you get the treatment you require to maximize your recovery.
There is more to a TBI than just the physical injury. You will probably experience social isolation as a result of being away from work and losing contact with friends. Even family relationships are often affected. Statistically TBI patients experience higher rates of divorce than the general public. We recognize these realities of TBI and help you to meet and overcome these challenges.
1Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation - 1993:8(3):86-87