With the beginning of the NFL season, many news outlets have ramped up their coverage of the “concussion crisis” in professional football, even in retrospectives that look back at classic NFL careers and how they were sometimes cut short by concussions. In our practice, since we have specialized for over 30 years as a law firm representing individuals who’ve suffered injuries from a car wreck, we are often dealing with clients whose lives have been permanently altered by traumatic brain injuries.
A concussion is often classified as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Research has shown the term “mild” is not appropriate because brain injuries are anything but mild. The CDC recognizes that even a single concussion may lead to long-lasting effects such as headaches, fatigue, depression, irritability, foggy thinking and cognitive impairment.
Despite this, a widely cited myth perpetuates that nearly all traumatic brain injuries resolve in three to six months without any long-term consequences. The myth lives on largely due to a frequently cited statistic that claims only 15 percent of mTBI victims have long-term cognitive impairment. A recent published study found this number is likely a “gross underestimation.”
Findings from a Recent Study
Researchers reviewed data from 45 studies that behaviorally assessed short- and long-term cognitive function in individuals with a single traumatic brain injury classified as “mild.” The goal of the study was to identify the impact of a single concussion on cognitive function in the chronic stage—more than three months—post-injury.
The study, published in April 2017, found that despite the widespread belief that most concussion symptoms resolve within three months post-injury, approximately 55 percent of individuals with a single mTBI demonstrate long-term cognitive impairment. In other words, a single concussion can have a long-term impact on cognitive function.
Our personal injury practice is dedicated to clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries, including a wide range of traumatic brain injury severity. As an attorney, I have had the privilege of helping many traumatic brain injury clients who have suffered severe, prolonged and disabling effects from their injuries. This study supports what our firm has seen for years – that one traumatic brain injury of any classification may cause devastating, long-term consequences for traumatic brain injury victims.
Source: McInnes, K, Friesen CL, MacKenzie, DE, Westwood, DA, Boe SG (2017) Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mtBI) and chronic cognitive impairment. A scoping review. PLoS ONE 12(4): 30174847. https://doi.org/10.137/journal.pone.0174847