Brain Injury FAQ

What is a mild traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury is defined as any physical injury to the brain that causes a disruption of normal functioning. Traumatic brain injuries are categorized on three levels: Mild, Moderate, and Severe. About 70-90% of traumatic brain injuries are classified as “mild”.

The disruption of normal functioning seen in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) cases can include:

  • Any period of lost consciousness
  • Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident
  • Any alteration in mental state (e.g. disorientation, confusion, dizziness, etc.)

An mTBI is serious, and can result in lasting symptoms if not treated.

Isn’t mild traumatic brain injury just a concussion?

A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is often referred to as a “concussion”. Unfortunately, the significance of concussions tends to be minimized as people do not realize that a concussion is a traumatic brain injury. Any disruption of brain functioning or injury to the brain must be taken seriously.

A concussion is an injury that can have lasting effects on the injured person’s life. In most cases, people recover from mild traumatic brain injuries without difficulty. However, if symptoms persist or become worse, it can mean the mTBI will become a long-term challenge.

What are the symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury?

A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) affects each person differently. The combination and severity of effects will vary depending on the areas of the brain involved and the individual person.

Symptoms can fall into three main categories:

  1. Physical – e.g. headache, ringing of ears, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, blurred vision, etc.
  2. Cognitive – e.g. difficulty with attention, concentration, memory, information processing, reasoning, planning, etc.
  3. Emotional – e.g. irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety, etc.

Why aren’t my symptoms going away? I didn’t even lose consciousness when I hit my head.

The terms “mild” and “concussion” are misleading. There is nothing mild about a brain injury. Even minor bumps to the head or sports-related concussions can have long-lasting effects and persistent symptoms.

If you have been in an accident and are experiencing any symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) – even if you did not lose consciousness – you should seek treatment for a brain injury.

How can I help my loved one cope with their mild traumatic brain injury?

The best thing you can do is be patient with your loved one. Educate yourself about mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and the challenges your loved one is facing. Make an effort to get to know the new person that may be emerging. Be accepting.

You can also help your loved one with daily living. Help them set realistic goals and make strategies for reaching them. Separate activities into smaller tasks. Develop routines and structure the day using external cues, such as alarms, as reminders. Make sure you have their full attention before you tell them something important, to minimize the chances that they will miss your message.

The Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) is a good resource. They provide information and guidance for people living with brain injuries in Ontario.

Where do I start with a treatment plan for mild traumatic brain injury?

You must seek out healthcare providers who understand mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Many healthcare providers are not familiar with or trained in mTBI. Your recovery may require an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, depending on your particular symptoms.

Your rehabilitation team can include:

  • Your family doctor
  • An occupational therapist
  • A physiotherapist
  • A neuropsychologist
  • A speech language pathologist
  • Other healthcare specialists
  • A case manager
  • A lawyer

It can be overwhelming. Start with a professional who is experienced in mTBI, whether that is your family physician, a case manager, or even your lawyer. This knowledgeable person should be able to recommend and coordinate the right set of practitioners for your recovery team.

What are my insurance and legal rights following a mild traumatic brain injury?

Every person’s situation is different. We recommend you seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer who specializes in mild traumatic brain injuries. Contact Us today.