In the United States, approximately 1.4 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Of those injuries, three out of four are minor TBI (mTBI) — a head injury that causes a temporary change in mental status including confusion, an altered level of consciousness, or perceptual or behavioral impairments.
According to a literature review appearing in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), falls and motor vehicle accidents are responsible for most cases of mTBI and also are a common cause of bone and joint injuries. “Musculoskeletal injuries are often seen concurrently with some studies estimating that 50 percent of patients with orthopaedic injuries also sustain a mTBI,” says lead study author Richard L. Uhl, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y.
Approximately 80 percent of patients who sustain a mTBI can be safely discharged from the emergency department and will fully recover and return to their baseline mental status. However, mTBI often goes undiagnosed initially because symptoms do not appear until the patient resumes everyday life. Advanced imaging of the head such as CT scans is often of little use as the majority of patients with a mTBI will initially have a normal examination.
A Silent Epidemic: mTBI by the Numbers
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control declared mTBI a major public health issue and a silent epidemic.