Mild Brain Damage can be Disabling

There is nothing Mild about Mild Brain Damage

By Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Mild brain damage, also referred to as mild traumatic brain injury – MTBI – occurs in a concussion and other brain injuries that do not involve coma.

The majority of those who suffer mild brain injury are not diagnosed with mild brain damage even if they do get to the ER. Without the diagnosis of mild brain damage after a concussion, the later diagnosis of permanent, disabling brain damage, is far more difficult to make.  My primary motive in this treatment of mild brain damage is to achieve three things:

  • To improve the diagnostic accuracy of a concussion (which means brain injury) in the first few hours after an accident or injury.
  • To catalyze a movement to require next day professional evaluation of every one suspected of having had a concussion, not just athletes.
  • Third is to tell stories of permanent disability caused by brain injury in a way that the patient, the loved one and the doctor will grasp the nature and the full extent of this life robber.

Most mild brain damage are not diagnosed in the emergency room for two reasons:

  • No meaningful effort is done to see if the brain is functioning normally, and
  • The conditions which separate the serious concussion from less serious concussion, have yet to evolve at the time of ER evaluation.  A serious concussion is more apparent at 24, 48 and 72 hours after trauma. All that is needed is someone in the medical establishment asking the right questions.

Concussion Damage is Damage to Brain’s Components

A generation ago, when I first started analogizing concussion damage to a computer crash, many in my audience didn’t quite grasp what I meant by hard drive, RAM and central processing unit.  Today, this treatment presumes that the reader will have an understanding of the practical aspects of how computers store and process information.  But to make sure that the reader shares my vocabulary, I will lay out the basics.  I recognize that analogizing the brain to what is currently our most sophisticated technology (the computer) is a gross oversimplification of the complexity of human brain function.

At the beginning of the 20th century there was the switchboard analogy to explain the brain, as the telephone switchboard was the most complicated technology of the time. Later Pavlov and Carl Spencer Lashley, in their debunking of the switchboard theory each developed new models of the brain and how it worked. Those models also turned out to be gross oversimplifications.  Doubtless only my makeup as a brain injury attorney allows me the insight to see this flaw yet the advocacy to tread on.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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