Is There a Difference Between Concussions & Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Video Transcription:

Hi, it's Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. I represent cycling crash victims and personal injury clients throughout Florida.

I wanna talk to you about the difference between a TBI and a concussion. I think most people think there is a big difference, and from a medical standpoint, there really isn't. What there is in our culture is a misunderstanding of the implications of a concussion. Too many people believe that a concussion is an event, but from the medical standpoint a concussion is really a long term process. It is a process that occurs over the long term.

You know last weekend, up in Atlanta, there was a real tragedy. A 16 year old young man was playing football, it's reported to be a high school football game, he came out of the game, collapsed, and was immediately taken to the hospital, and ultimately died of a brain injury. This was a young man with no history, apparently, of this. The parents, according to news reports, had taken the extra precaution of buying their son a professional NFL-style helmet to have the best head injury protection they could find, so they kind of realized the implications, but thought they had done what they could to minimize the risk.

I think this incident really kind of points out the need for us to be aware as parents and grandparents and friends and coaches of the implications of head injuries, concussions, and mild traumatic brain injuries, or even significant traumatic brain injuries.

You know, many people are under the impression that a concussion requires someone to have been knocked out, and it does not. Majority of people never lose consciousnesses. What they have is this feeling of being hazy, foggy, or unsure. And the other thing is that many people believe that if I have an MRI after a concussion, if there's really anything wrong, it'll show up on an MRI or it might show up on a CT scan. The reality is that the damage done in a concussion within our brains is down on the neuron and axon level, it is very, very, very tiny neurons in the brain. It takes millions of these neurons to be injured in order to make it big enough for an MRI to see it. You can have an extensive brain injury, brain injury concussion symptoms and have a negative MRI. The only thing typically that a CT scan is going to show is whether the person suffered a fractured skull or they have an active bleed or an accumulation of blood inside the brain. So don't fall into the misunderstanding that if there's negative scan, either MRI or CT scan, there is no brain injury. That's not the case either.

Brain injuries really manifest themselves in our lives in a variety of ways. In our practice here in Clearwater, we have a checklist of concussion symptoms that we go over with every person that comes to us who has a suspected concussion. We have found that it is always the case that if a person suspects they've had a concussion and they tell me that they've had one or two symptoms such as forgetfulness, word finding, they may have amnesia about the event, when we go over the checklist and they see in front of them some 30 or 40 or more possible symptoms that it triggers in their mind, well, I have that and I have that and I have that. So we found that it's a much better way to get a thorough understanding of exactly how the concussion might be affecting someone. And we break these down into physical symptoms. Nausea and vomiting, disorientation, balance, there's 15 physical symptoms that we ask people about.

We also have emotional issues. People with concussions frequently have, they may be depressed, they may be angry, they may have agitation, sadness, and fearfulness. There's 12 emotional areas that we ask people about when we have someone with a suspected concussion. We have another category of what we call cognitive functioning or mental functioning symptoms. That could be someone who's talking about, they're having difficulty concentrating, they're having difficulty focusing, they're confused, they have word finding issues. They have difficulty learning new things. These can be quite disconcerting in our lives.

We have 10 cognitive issues we ask people about. We have three sleeping issues and we have eight kind of common signs of a concussion. This is feeling of no memory of the event before, or no memory of the event during or after, retrograde and anterograde amnesia. They are people who are having confusion about the event, they may be hazy or foggy in terms of their memory of the event. So we try to sort of flush out, if you would, a much more detailed understanding of concussion symptoms so that when they go to the doctor, we make sure that they understand exactly what they're suffering from so that they can convey to their doctor exactly what they're having, and the doctor has a full understanding of what is going in their lives.

Bear in mind, remember that a concussion is not an event, it is a process. In our practice we are constantly updating our concussion and brain injury research. Jennifer Jones, who works for us, does this research for us. There was a recent study that we use in our brain injury demands, it's with an amazing statistic, that half of individuals with a single mild traumatic brain injury, a concussion, demonstrate long term cognitive impairment. Now think about that. Half of people with a single concussion resulting in a mild traumatic brain injury will have long term cognitive impairment.

Now most people are still under the belief that if your bell gets rung, the physical symptoms may manifest, the confusion, the headache, the dizziness, but after those go away, it's all been resolved, and that is, we're finding more and more clearly, that is not the case. All of this has sort of exploded as a result of all of the research done on CTE related to the football players and the research that's done on their brains after they pass away. And it's raised the awareness and the understanding of the significance of brain injuries much more than we ever had 10 years ago. And I think this raises enormous implications for parents and grandparents and coaches, and all those people involved in making decisions, or around people, particularly the young people, who are involved in any kind of activity that could involve the potential of a concussion. People need to be aware and understand.

And I think that those of us, as parents and grandparents, need to have awareness of what the long term implications of a concussion actually are, so that we can make decisions about those sports we perhaps choose for our children to participate in or some that we say maybe that's not the best thing for them to do. You know, obviously, some of the most notorious opportunities for concussions to occur really are in football, and quite frankly, in soccer. All of those things raise the ante for getting a concussion, particularly by a young person. So having a concussion younger in life has serious implications as well.

I don't believe that we should live in fear, but I do believe strongly that we should live in awareness. And I want to raise the awareness of anyone who may be watching this. We have information that will help you understand some of the implications of the difference between a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury.

I have The Layman's Guide to Brain Injuries that you can download from our website for free. I think you'll find it interesting. We're constantly updating our website with the latest TBI research.

If I can ever do anything to help you, to answer questions or give you guidance in any respect related to an injury or a suspected concussion, whether it's bike-related or auto accident related, please call. There's certainly never a charge to talk to someone about a case.

So this is Jim Dodson. Hope you find this interesting. Download the report, it'll be helpful. Thank you.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.