Mild Brain Injury 101, The Top 5 Myths About Mild Brain Injury – #2

Mild brain injury cases are very complex. This series of 5 articles by BC brain injury lawyer Paul Mitchell, Q.C., will explain the Top 5 Myths About Mild Brain Injury.

Find out what is involved in these challenging and difficult cases, and separate fact from fiction.



It can take days or weeks for the effects of traumatic brain injury to become obvious to the injured person and those close to him/her.

Often the signs can be subtle, and are not obvious immediately after the injury. They are often overshadowed by serious physical injuries, and pain.

Within days to weeks of the head injury approximately 40% of TBI patients develop a host of troubling symptoms called “postconcussion syndrome” (PCS). Symptoms include headache, dizziness, memory problems, trouble concentrating, sleeping problems, restlessness, irritability, apathy, depression, and anxiety.

Some patients are discharged from a hospital very soon after a traumatic brain injury, with doctors concluding that the effects of the accident were, in fact, milder than they actually were, or they miss the symptoms altogether. According to neurology experts, it can take hours, days, or even weeks for the symptoms of TBI to become clear. They are often masked by serious pain, or explained away with pain medication being seen as the likely cause of the symptoms.

People with mild TBI often do not present with obvious issues. They look fine. Many individuals with MTBI often think they should be fine, and attempt to resume their normal activities shortly after the injury. Only then do they realize that their normal environment puts an inordinately high demand on them, causing the symptoms to become obvious. Trying to cope with normal work and life demands often reveal the true effects of MTBI, such as trouble with concentration, memory, emotions, irritability, fatigue, and more.

Many also think that a concussion “should clear up” in very short time. While this sometimes is the case, there is no “normal;” when it comes to MTBI symptoms, or the length of time symptoms may persist. Symptoms may indeed clear up in a short time, but they may also be permanent. It all depends on the individual and the type of injury they incurred.

Their medical history has an impact, (prior TBI’s being one factor), as well as general health and age. Postconcussion syndrome is also more prevalent in patients who had psychiatric symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, before the injury.

Age is also a factor. In a child for example, because a child’s brain is still in development, it can sometimes take many years to recognize the full extent of actual impairments caused by a traumatic brain injury, particularly with frontal lobe injuries, and executive thinking skills. Research shows that children younger than age five may experience more long-term challenges from TBI, compared to older children. The majority of traumatic brain injuries in children affect those under the age of ten, so this is quite common.

The actual mechanics of the injury also affect the MTBI symptoms longevity, and severity. Was it a blunt force, or a whiplash “coup contre-coup” injury? Symptoms may vary dramatically with the type of brain injury, and the location of the brain actually injured. Frontal lobe injuries often have no effect on IQ, but may dramatically affect critical executive functions, and social skills. These symptoms may be very subtle, but may be devastating on the individual’s ability to act normally in social situations, and function in a normal work environment.

In summary, it’s a myth that a mild TBI has immediate symptoms, and those symptoms should clear up quickly.

And that’s a fact.

Paul Mitchell, a BC personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience with brain injury claims. He acts for the brain injured all over BC, and will not act for ICBC or any other insurance company.

Paul was a founding Director of BrainTrust Canada (Central Okanagan Brain Injury Society), and was on their board for over 25 years. He has presented at numerous brain injury conferences, including the Naramata Brain Injury Conference, and the BC Brain Injury Conference in Vancouver. He is also the author of many articles and publications on brain injury.

For more information on brain injuries, or for a confidential discussion of your brain injury claim, contact Paul Mitchell, Q.C. at 250-869-1115 (direct line), or send him a confidential email at [email protected]

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