There’s a New Definition for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

There’s a New Definition for Mild Traumatic Brain InjuryMild or severe, TBIs can cause immediate and lifelong challenges. If you suffer a TBI due to someone’s negligence (whether in a vehicle, at work, or even at the grocery store), you should contact the attorneys at Silverman, McDonald, & Friedman in Newark, Seaford, or Wilmington today.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a significant health concern that can have profound and long-lasting effects on individuals. These injuries occur as a result of a sudden blow, jolt, or penetrating injury to the head, leading to damage to the brain’s normal functioning. Whether caused by accidents, falls, sports-related incidents, or other traumatic events, TBIs can result in a wide range of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral impairments. The criteria for what defines an injury as a mild traumatic brain injury has recently seen a change, and now what determines and defines a mild TBI is more encompassing, including concussions being definitively classified as mild TBIs.

What are the new criteria for mild traumatic brain injuries?

Recently, the definition for a mild traumatic brain injury has changed. The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) Mild TBI Task Force has developed new diagnostic criteria for mild traumatic brain injury that are applicable across different settings. The criteria aim to provide a clearer definition of mild TBI and improve diagnostic accuracy. The criteria consist of several elements, including the mechanism of injury, clinical signs, acute symptoms, clinical examination and laboratory findings, and neuroimaging.

The new criteria for mTBIs include:

  • Criterion 1. Criterion 1 focuses on the mechanism of injury, requiring a plausible external force that disrupts brain function. The criteria expand the range of possible injury mechanisms, including blast or explosion forces, and avoid using the term “accident” to acknowledge intentional causes of TBI. The diagnosis of mild TBI also requires clinical evidence of acute physiological disruption of brain function.
  • Criterion 2. This criterion emphasizes clinical signs as evidence of mild TBI. These signs can be observed or elicited through examination, distinguishing them from subjective symptoms. The criteria provide operational definitions for different signs, such as loss of consciousness and altered mental status. The presence of one or more clinical signs attributed to the mechanism of injury is sufficient for diagnosis.
  • Criterion 3. Acute symptoms are subjective changes in health. The presence of two or more symptoms, along with abnormal clinical examination or laboratory findings (Criterion 4), is enough for a diagnosis of mild TBI. The criteria aim to improve sensitivity by considering symptoms, but specificity is maintained by excluding symptoms with poor specificity and requiring an acute onset and absence of confounding factors.
  • Criterion 4. The inclusion of clinical examination and laboratory findings in the criteria is a new addition. These findings, such as cognitive impairment or oculomotor impairment, can contribute to the diagnosis of mild TBI and increase diagnostic certainty. However, they cannot definitively confirm mild TBI and should be considered alongside other criteria.
  • Criterion 5. Neuroimaging is not required for the diagnosis of mild TBI, but when imaging reveals trauma-related intracranial abnormalities, it is sufficient for diagnosis. The criteria recommend using a qualifier to indicate the presence of structural intracranial injury on neuroimaging.

The criteria retain the traditional upper threshold for mild TBI based on the duration of loss of consciousness. Efforts are underway to develop a more granular severity grading system, but until then, the criteria can serve as diagnostic criteria for the lower threshold of TBI.

The criteria also address the terminology debate between “concussion” and “mild TBI.” The task force concluded that the terms can be used interchangeably when neuroimaging is normal or not clinically indicated.

The criteria acknowledge the existence of suspected mild TBI, where diagnostic certainty is lower due to various factors. In such cases, clinical judgment and consideration of available evidence are necessary to determine the likelihood of mild TBI.

Overall, the ACRM diagnostic criteria for mild TBI aim to provide a more comprehensive and standardized approach to diagnosis, encompassing different aspects of the condition and improving diagnostic accuracy.

What are the most common causes of TBIs?

TBI is most frequently caused by falls, firearm-related injuries, motor vehicle crashes, or assaults. Research indicates the following:

  • Slip and fall accidents. Falls account for nearly half of all TBI-related hospitalizations.
  • TBI-related deaths in the United States are predominantly caused by firearm-related suicides.
  • Car accidents. Motor vehicle crashes and assaults are also common causes of TBIs.

Other common causes of TBIs include sports injuries and workplace injuries (objects falling onto head).

How can a Delaware attorney help?

Whether you slipped on some ice on someone’s steps, something fell on you at work, or a distracted driver crashed into you on your way to school, the empathetic team of personal injury attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman recognizes the profound impact of TBIs. These injuries can result in paralysis, rendering individuals unable to work or take care of themselves. Others may endure debilitating headaches, personality disorders, and episodes of memory loss. We are here to ensure that those responsible for your injuries are held liable. Our firm advocates for the rightful compensation you deserve, enabling you to move forward and rebuild your life. If you or a loved one is suffering from a TBI, call us in Delaware or use our contact page to schedule a free consultation.