Concussion is confusing us all


This review focuses on mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and discusses the terms used to describe this and related injuries. MTBI, in military settings, is most commonly referred to following blunt force trauma to the head, often as a consequence of a blast impact. By using the term concussion, symptoms may be misinterpreted as short-lived, obscuring other elements of diagnosis. These issues are explored further here.


It is time to stop using the term concussion as it has no clear definition and no pathological meaning. This confusion is increasingly problematic as the management of 'concussed' individuals is a pressing concern. Historically, it has been used to describe patients briefly disabled following a head injury, with the assumption that this was due to a transient disorder of brain function without long-term sequelae. However, the symptoms of concussion are highly variable in duration, and can persist for many years with no reliable early predictors of outcome. Using vague terminology for posttraumatic problems leads to misconceptions and biases in the diagnostic process, producing uninterpretable science, poor clinical guidelines and confused policy. We propose that the term concussion should be avoided. Instead neurologists and other healthcare professionals should classify the severity of traumatic brain injury and then attempt to precisely diagnose the underlying cause of post-traumatic symptoms.

Full Reference

Sharp, D.J. and Jenkins, P.O. (2015) Concussion is confusing us all. Practical Neurology, 15(3), pp. 172-186.