Mild Brain Injury can be Disabling

Mild Brain Injury Isn’t Necessarily Mild

By Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Mild brain injury, also referred to as mild traumatic brain injury – MTBI – happens in a concussion and other brain injuries that do not involve extended loss of consciousness.

Most of those who suffer mild traumatic brain injury are not diagnosed with mild brain injury even if they do get to the emergency room. Without the diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury after a concussion, the later diagnosis of permanent, disabling brain damage, is far more complicated.  My primary motive in this treatment of mild traumatic brain injury is to achieve three things:

  • To improve the diagnostic accuracy of a concussion (which means mild traumatic brain injury) in the first few hours after an injury.
  • To catalyze a movement to require next day professional evaluation of every one who suffers a concussion, not just those with sports concussions.
  • To tell stories of permanent disability caused by brain injury in a way that the brain injury survivor, the loved one and the doctor will understand the full extent of this life robber.

Most mild brain injuries are not diagnosed in the emergency room for two reasons:

  • No legitimate effort is made to see if the brain is functioning normally, and
  • The symptoms which mark the serious concussion have yet to evolve.  A serious concussion is more symptomatic at 24, 48 and 72 hours after trauma than at the one to two hour interval. If someone in the medical establishment asks the correct questions, diagnosis would be clear cut.

Concussion Injury is Damage to the Brain’s Components

I first started analogizing concussion damage to computer crashes a generation ago, before many readers understood what I meant by hard drive, RAM and central processing unit.  Today, I presume that those reading this will have a grasp on how computers store and process information.  But to assure that the reader shares my vocabulary, I will lay out the basics of computers.  I do this while recognizing that analogizing the brain to the computer is an oversimplification of the complexity of human brain function.

At the start of the last century teachers used the switchboard analogy to explain the brain, as the telephone switchboard was the most advanced technology of the time. Later Pavlov and Carl Spencer Lashley, developed new models of the brain and how it worked moving on from the switchboard. Those theories we now look back as gross oversimplifications.  No doubt only my makeup as a brain injury attorney allows me the insight to see this flaw yet the advocacy to tread on.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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