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Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Condition: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a person hits his head, is hit in the head, or is jolted by an explosion. It is called mild TBI (mTBI) if the person loses consciousness or becomes unaware of what is happening for only a short time.  

Background: mTBI is the most common type of brain injury, affecting over a million Americans each year. There are many possible causes, including falls, auto or bicycle accidents, sports injuries, assault, or being near a blast during combat.    

Risk Factors:  Alcohol can increase the risk of mTBI. Wearing a helmet during sports or bike riding can reduce the risk.

History and Symptoms: The first signs of mTBI may include confusion, headache, blurred vision, and dizziness. Over the next days or weeks, a person with mTBI may have trouble sleeping, paying attention and thinking. Most people recover within a week or so, but some people have symptoms that last longer.

Physical Exam: Trying to tell if a person has mTBI involves testing their strength, balance, vision, and whether their pupils are the same size. They may also have head or neck pain or stiffness.  

Diagnostic Process: Tests of thinking, memory, and attention should be done to find out how severe the injury is. A CT scan may be done to make sure there is no bleeding in the brain.

Rehab Management: Rest and paying close attention to symptoms is important following mTBI.  Medicines for pain may also be helpful. Counseling may be needed if the patient has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Other Resources for Patients and Families: Family members can help mTBI patients by providing emotional support. Educational materials are available that can help patients and family members learn about how to cope with the effects of mTBI. 

For Patients and Families:

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