Someone mentioned the other day on Twitter that we need to stop calling concussions “concussions” and start calling them what they are – traumatic brain injuries.
It totally makes sense. Our terminology has gotten really skewed, I suspect because anything relating to the brain and injuring it … well, it freaks people out, and they stop listening.
So, if you want to educate a skittish public, you have to find a word they can relate to. I’ve done it myself.
But I think it’s time to stop.
Because our terminology is flawed. And because words affect how we think about things, we really can’t think about this problem properly, until we really understand what we’re discussing.
Here’s my update to the Wikipedia infographic explaining concussion (click if you want to see the original)
This explains it more clearly to me — a concussion is the event that shakes the brain or smashes it against the inside of the skull. A traumatic brain injury is the result.
Confusing the two just muddies the waters. And when you think about what the words really mean, it becomes increasingly nonsensical.
In everyday terms, it’s like prescribing treatment for a car accident, rather than the injuries it produces. Everybody knows that car accidents come in all different “flavors” and degrees of seriousness. Likewise with brain injuries from concussion. And like car accidents, concussions come in many varieties. There’s an infinite number of ways to get your brain shaken and smashed inside your skull. And the results vary.
Plus, talking about the originating event is superficial.
When someone crashes their car, you don’t treat the collision. You treat the injuries that result from the collision.
When you get hit in the head, you don’t treat the impact of the object against your head, you treat the result of the impact.
No doctor treats a bicycle accident. They treat the broken bones, bruises, and contusions after the accident.
Saying “you had a concussion” is literally saying “you had a collision”. In and of itself, that statement means nothing. “Concussion” just means you got shaken, rattled, and rolled. It doesn’t indicate any particular injury. It implies there may have been an injury. But when it comes to the effect, that’s where traumatic brain injury becomes relevant.
And until we start calling things by the terms that they really are, our approach and ability to respond to this “crisis” is going to lag and limp along.
So, let’s start calling things what they are, and really get down to work.
6 thoughts on “#Concussion is the event. #TBI is the result.”
Another area that needs vigilance to stop misinformation is the media labeling “concussion-like” symptoms. I am seeing that right now in the NBA; just check the latest Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) updates. They need to remove “-like,” stop minimizing the injury and call it what it is.
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Reblogged this on Tante Mimi and commented:
Easy to understand..!
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Great – thanks!
Yeah, I know – it’s maddening. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it’s NOT a duck-like waterfowl. It’s a danged duck.
Reblogged this on Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind and commented:
I still don’t understand why we confuse the two. It seems clear to me that concussion is the event. Traumatic brain injury is what happens after the brain is concussed. Still makes a lot of sense to me.