About 6 million Americans each year are affected by mild traumatic brain injuries. These injuries occur as a result of sports injuries, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, falls, and other incidents. Usually, these injuries require less than 48 hours of hospitalization or even no hospitalization at all. However, do not let the name “mild traumatic brain injury” fool you – this type of brain injury can still have a significant impact on a person’s life. It also requires close monitoring, as a mild injury can get worse.
A brain injury is considered a mild traumatic brain injury if the patient has been unconscious for less than 20 minutes after a head injury. Some mild memory loss is common after a mild traumatic brain injury, and many patients, for example, do not remember the head injury that has occurred. In a mild traumatic brain injury, however, memory usually returns in 24 to 48 hours. With medical supervision, the patient heals.
Many people who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury find that as they recover they experience several symptoms. Doctors refer to these as postconcussion syndrome symptoms:
1) A very persistent headache
2) Fatigue and dizziness
4) Mild memory loss and lack of ability to concentrate
5) Mild difficulty completing daily tasks
6) Sleep troubles
7) Trouble multi-tasking
8) Emotional upheavals or upset, depression, or anxiety
Some people with mild traumatic brain injury experience these symptoms in the weeks or days after a head injury. Some people never experience any symptoms at all. In many cases, the symptoms can persist for weeks or even months after a brain injury. Most doctors expect all symptoms to be gone within six months.
After a mild traumatic brain injury, you should seek medical help from a doctor. Your doctor will tell you how soon you can take part in your daily activities. If you play sports or drink alcohol, you need to tell your doctor, because your doctor may prohibit you from certain exercise and from drinking until your mild traumatic brain injury is completely healed. This is because a second brain injury could severely injure you. Follow your doctor’s directions fully and return as required for checkups to see that your mild traumatic brain injury is healing.
Call your doctor at once if your symptoms get worse or if you develop new symptoms. If you are having trouble with basic daily activities, visit your doctor again. You may need help from speech, occupational, or physical therapists as you heal from your injury or you may need more tests to determine whether there is another problem.