What Is The Difference Between A TBI And A Concussion?

Your brain is the most powerful organ in your body. It effortlessly conducts numerous high-level processes, such as interpreting and coordinating thoughts, memory, speech, behavior, emotions, and movements. But this three-pound organ is also very fragile; motor vehicle accidents, bad falls, and contact sports can cause injuries to your brain. 

This article explores the following question in detail: What is the difference between a TBI and a concussion? While some may use the terms TBI and concussion interchangeably, it is important to note that while all concussions are TBIs, not all TBIs are concussions. In other words, a concussion is a mild form of a TBI. 

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury that results from a violent bump, blow, or jolt to the head, which disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. A TBI can be a penetrating injury, such as a bullet permeating the head, or a non-penetrating injury (or closed head injury) caused by the head slamming against the dashboard in a car accident. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer a TBI every year. It is a leading cause of death and disability among children and adults in the U.S.

Symptoms of TBI injuries vary depending on whether the TBI is mild, moderate, or severe. 

Mild TBI

According to Mayo Clinic, a mild TBI may accompany symptoms such as:

  • Brief moments of unconsciousness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Behavioral changes
  • Memory problems
  • Attention or concentration problems
  • Dizziness
  • Hypersensitivity to light or sound
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty with thinking
  • Nausea or vomiting

Moderate or Severe TBI

Moderate to severe TBI patients often experience the symptoms of mild TBI, plus additional symptoms such as:

  • Extended loss of consciousness
  • Repeated nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech 
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils
  • Numbness or weakness in limbs
  • Coordination problems
  • Irritable, restless, or easy to anger
  • Difficulty waking up from sleep
  • Worsening headache

Since a moderate to severe TBI can cause significant brain damage or swelling or bleeding in the brain, its effects can be long-lasting or even permanent. Patients may face disabilities, such as:

  • Problems with walking, speaking, or swallowing
  • Paralysis
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty recalling events or thinking
  • Trouble with simple tasks like buttoning a shirt, holding a spoon, or tying their shoes

According to Cleveland Clinic, treatment may involve surgery to repair the brain damage. After the initial care, you may need to complete a rehabilitation program to re-learn affected skills and learn measures to adapt to life with a physical or mental disability. 

Concussions Are a Type of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

A concussion is the most common type of TBI. They are referred to as “mild TBIs” since they are not life-threatening. Even so, their effects on your life can be severe.

A concussion is often caused by a direct mechanical force or head trauma, such as falling or being struck in the head. It can also result from rapid acceleration or deceleration of the head, such as whiplash or blast injuries. 

This abrupt force or movement causes the brain to make contact with the skull, which can rupture blood vessels, pull on nerve fibers, bruise the brain tissue, or cause microscopic tears in brain cells. 

Concussion Symptoms

A concussion’s signs and symptoms are the same as those of a mild TBI. They may emerge right away or slowly hours or days after the accident. For example, the person with a concussion may feel stunned after the accident but may have trouble remembering how the accident happened a few hours later. 

Here are some symptoms you may observe in a person with a concussion:

  • Losing consciousness for brief periods (although not all concussion patients will lose consciousness)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Seizures
  • Confusion or problems with focus
  • Extreme sluggishness
  • Brain fog
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Balance problems
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound

Even though concussions are “mild” TBIs, it is still important to see a doctor after any head injury. Most concussion patients are prescribed plenty of rest and abstinence from sports or other physical activity for a short period. Your healthcare provider may also request you limit any cognitively engaging task like reading or the time you spend in front of a TV or computer screen.

In most cases, concussion symptoms will dissipate within weeks. However, some people may develop post-concussion syndrome, which can prolong the recovery to several months or longer. 

Was Your TBI or Concussion the Result of Someone Else’s Negligence?

The most common causes of TBI or concussion tend to fall, being struck by an object, motor vehicle crashes, and assault. Our catastrophic injury lawyers in Baltimore can help you seek compensation from the entities responsible for your TBI. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to redeem expenses for medical and rehabilitation treatment, pain and suffering, and other damages you have experienced. 

Contact our legal team at Brown & Barron to schedule a free case review and discuss your accident and legal options.

Woman holding her head
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