In the past, diagnosing a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) has been very difficult for clinicians. There has not been an objective measure or test for this common injury. For this reason, all too many mTBI's have gone undetected and untreated. Patients have suffered too long with continued headaches, memory problems and impaired balance.
An mTBI is an injury to the brain caused by external forces. Common examples that cause an mTBI are motor vehicle accidents (with or without a direct blow to the head), sports related injuries, falls or explosive blasts. Patients may or may not suffer a loss of consciousness for an mTBI to occur.
Brain injuries may occur with or without a direct blow to the head. This is known as a coup contrecoup injury. The head is rapidly accelerated and decelerated as in a motor vehicle accident. Twisting and rotational forces stretch and sever long-range connecting fibers in the brain. Damage to these fibers disrupts communication between nerve cells and reduces the efficiency of brain function. These brain changes can be difficult to "see" with radiographs, CT or an MRI scan. They can be equally as difficult to find during a medical exam.