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Minor Traumatic Brain Injury: A Primer for the Orthopaedic Surgeon

Richard L. Uhl J Am Acad Orthop Surg October 2013 vol. 21 no. 10

Abstract Minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a major public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control label it a “silent epidemic.” Subtle signs and symptoms of mTBI, including headache, fatigue, and memory loss, are often seen in conjunction with musculoskeletal trauma. Although sometimes evident immediately, mTBI may not manifest until patients return to work and their personal lives. In the patient with acute concurrent mTBI, skeletal management must be based on either a period of observation to rule out evolving neurologic symptoms or, when warranted, the recommendations of a neurosurgeon. Such input is particularly important when mTBI is associated with a prolonged loss of consciousness or posttraumatic amnesia. In the outpatient setting, when concern for mTBI exists weeks after an injury, familiarity with and referral to locally available mTBI specialists and programs can facilitate proper care. Armed with this knowledge, the orthopaedic surgeon has an opportunity to positively influence outcomes and help provide crucial care that extends beyond the management of musculoskeletal injuries.

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