The "mild" in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) can be a misnomer. Many people will experience only a short period of problems such as confusion, headache, dizziness, or fatigue and then go on to have a complete recovery. But some people with an mTBI will endure much more long-term problems. In these cases, the term "mild" may detract from the seriousness of these long-term effects, leaving these patients without an adequate treatment or follow-up plan.
A recent study examined ER records over three years to determine if there were predictive factors for people with mTBI who experience long-term effects. They found that the following factors predicted long term problems after mTBI:
- Prior mTBI
- Prior history of anxiety
- Poor memory at admission
- Light sensitivity
These factors should be considered by ER staff as potential red flags for further follow-up and treatment.
Wojdk SM. Predicting mild traumatic brain injury patients at risk of persistent symptoms in the Emergency Department. Brain Injury. (April 2014)