Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. However, not every blow to the head will result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). In a report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States, the majority of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI.
Concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is a brief change in mental status or consciousness. It is a frequent injury among older adults, athletes at all competitive levels, and among our military personnel who sustain blast injuries. There are challenges in the recognition and diagnosis of individuals with mTBI or concussions. The management of a concussion involves a continuum of care, which includes prevention, detection, rehabilitation, and return to participation in activity. Physical therapists provide a unique contribution to the concussion care management team, particularly in the areas of balance and vestibular evaluation and rehabilitation.
These resources should prove valuable for physical therapists who provide care for individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury, such as wounded warriors who are returning home, and provide support for family members/caregivers who are caring for wounded warriors with TBI, athletes, children, or older adults.