Is A TBI The Same As A Concussion?

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a medical condition that can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning and occurs because of experiencing a jolt or blow to one’s head. A concussion is often referred to by medical professionals as a mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI). A specialized committee that falls under the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) developed the following definition: a patient with mild traumatic brain injury is a person who has had a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  1. Any period of loss of consciousness;
  2. Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident;
  3. Any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident (e.g., feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused); and
  4. Focal neurological deficit(s) that may or may not be transient; but that the severity of the injury does not exceed the following:
    • Loss of consciousness of approximately 30 minutes or less;
    • After 30 minutes, an initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCD) of 12-15; 
    • Posttraumatic amnesia (PTA) not greater than 24 hours.

It is important to note that not all hits to the head inevitably result in a severe TBI. The terms mild TBI and concussion are synonymous and can be used interchangeably.

Symptoms of a Concussion

The symptoms that present will directly correlate to the severity of one’s traumatic brain injury. The severity of a TBI is dependent upon several factors (e.g., force of the impact, nature of the injury, etc.). There are various common events that could cause a mild TBI, such as sports injuries, violence, falls, explosive blasts, vehicle-related collisions, and other combat injuries. Symptoms that could present with a concussion may include, but are not limited to any combination of the following examples, provided by the Mayfield Brain & Spine Clinic:

  • Headache
  • Feelings of fatigue and/ or exhaustion
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Memory impairment (e.g., trouble remembering new information)
  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness 
  • Irritability
  • Nausea 
  • Trouble with concentration, thinking and/ or attention
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and/ or sounds
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety 
  • Behavior and/ or mood changes

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), about seventy-five percent of TBIs that occur each year are classified as mild TBIs. 

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