Definition: Mild-Traumatic Brain injury is essentially synonymous with concussion.  The difference, is that concussion is a term for only one type of mild-traumatic brain injury. Concussions/mild-traumatic brain injuries occur from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, causing the head and brain to move back and forth rapidly enough to cause stretching/damage to brain cells and changes in brain chemistry.  

When do Concussions or Mild-Traumatic Brain Injuries Occur?

They occur most commonly during car accidents and fall injuries.  In fact, in one population based study, Cassidy et. al., found that about 25% of car accidents resulted in mild-traumatic brain injury.  Contact sports such as football, rugby, and hockey are another population in which concussions often occur.

Signs and Symptoms of concussion or mild-traumatic brain injury?   

The Center for Disease Control divides signs and symptoms into observable and reportable columns.


Important Information for Your Healthcare Provider After a Car Accident:

  • Report if you hit your head, or you think you might have hit your head.
  • Report any loss of consciousness, even if it was brief.
  • Report any memory lapses, confusion, or disorientation.
  • Report if the accident has caused you a sense of dizziness or unsteadiness.
  • Report any concentration problems.
  • Report any ongoing or worsening headaches.
  • Report any nausea or vomiting.
  • Report any history of previous concussions.


Signs of an Emergency (need care, or further evaluation immediately at an emergency room):  

  • One pupil being larger than the other
  • Drowsiness or inability to wake up
  • A worsening headache that does not go away
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness, numbness, or trouble with coordination
  • Repeated vomiting/nausea, twitching or seizures
  • Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
  • Loss of consciousness (even if it is brief), needs to be taken seriously

What To Expect Once You’ve Been Cleared and Sent Home after a Concussion:

First 24 hours after a concussion:

  • Have a responsible person monitor you and also check your responsiveness at least every 4 hours, for any worsening or progressing symptoms (like the ones mentioned above).  
  • Do not participate in stressful physical or mental activity.
  • Stick to clear fluids, like water.
  • Do not drink alcohol or overeat.
  • Do not take sleeping pills, Ibuprofen, or any sedatives unless otherwise instructed by your medical doctor.


After a car accident, you’ll often be treated for a multitude of other injuries, sustained.  Most commonly: neck pain, lower back pain, and shoulder pain.  Make sure you let any treating provider know of any continuation or progression of symptoms such as: memory loss, difficulty with previously routine tasks, trouble prioritizing, (or any of the above).  


Many people recover from a post car accident concussion within 2-3 weeks and the majority, by 3 months.  However, a percentage continue to have post concussion symptoms, which can be chronic.  Those at higher risk of developing chronic post concussion symptoms:

  • tend to have a greater extent of initial injury
  • have had previous concussions
  • sustained another concussion, not too long after the initial concussion
  • Experiences post traumatic stress disorder
  • are school age, or seniors
  • lost consciousness during the car accident for greater than 1 minute  


Excellent Resources for Parents, Coaches, Healthcare providers and anyone Concerned about Concussions and Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries:





“Professionals.” Professionals | BrainLine. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2017.

Cassidy, J. David, Linda Carroll, Paul Peloso, Jörgen Borg, Hans Von Holst, Lena Holm, Jess Kraus, and Victor Coronado. “Incidence, risk factors and prevention of mild traumatic brain injury: results of the who collaborating centre task force on mild traumatic brain injury.” Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine36.0 (2004): 28-60. Web.

Cassidy, J. David, Eleanor Boyle, and Linda J. Carroll. “Population-Based, Inception Cohort Study of the Incidence, Course, and Prognosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury After Motor Vehicle Collisions.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation95.3 (2014): n. pag. Web.

Ebell, Mark. “Computed Tomography after Minor Head Injury.” American Family Physician73.12 (2006): 2205-208. Web.

Merritt, Victoria C., Rael T. Lange, and Louis M. French. “Resilience and symptom reporting following mild traumatic brain injury in military service members.” Brain Injury29.11 (2015): 1325-336. Web.

Mittenberg, W., D. V. Digiulio, S. Perrin, and A. E. Bass. “Symptoms following mild head injury: expectation as aetiology.” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry55.3 (1992): 200-04. Web.

“The Glasgow Structured Approach to Assessment of the Glasgow Coma Scale.” Glasgow Coma Scale. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2017.

“What Is a Concussion?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 01 Aug. 2017.

Daniel Yinh

Daniel Yinh


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