Understanding mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI)
A mild traumatic brain injury results from a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Mild traumatic brain injury may also be referred to as concussion, minor head injury mild head injury, closed head injury and more. These injuries are described as ‘mild’ as they are usually not life-threatening and the patient will generally get better on their own. Individuals who have had a mild traumatic brain injury only rarely need to be hospitalized.
The brain is a complex structure, therefore every injury can present differently. At the time of injury, the patient may have loss of consciousness, have amnesia for a short time period or are simply dazed and confused. Some patients may not discover symptoms for days or weeks after their injury.
Following a mild traumatic brain injury, a person may experience one or more of the following:
- Low-grade headache
- Difficulty concentrating/forgetfulness
- Sleeplessness/feeling tired
- Neck pain
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound
- Blurred vision
- And others
It is important to note that these symptoms will gradually decrease over days and weeks.
Workers who have been diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or have a suspected mTBI may require up to one week of rest before gradually returning to work and other activities, according to the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation’s Guidelines for Concussion / Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Persistent Symptoms Guidelines for Concussion/MTBI & Persistent Symptoms: Second Edition | Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Research also shows that most symptoms resulting from an mTBI will resolve quickly on their own.
Allowed lost-time claims for mild traumatic brain injuries
Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (mTBIs) have been on the rise over the past 10 years. From 2009 to 2018, mTBIs have more than tripled. In 2018, mTBIs represented 8% of all allowed lost time injuries, up from 2% in 2009. As awareness about concussions increases and people are able to better recognize the injury, there continues to be an upward trend in the allowed lost-time claims
Over the past 10 years, females have experienced more mTBI lost time injuries than males. Overall since 2009, 54% of mTBIs are from women compared to 51% of all allowed lost time injuries. Since 2013, females have had more mTBI lost time injuries than males each year.
Almost 1 in every 5 mTBI lost time injury is a young worker (ages 15 to 24).
Since 2009, 29% of all mTBI lost-time injuries has come from five occupations. Secondary and elementary school teachers and counsellors had the highest percentage of mTBIs representing 8% of all mTBI lost-time injuries over the past 10 years.
2009 – 2018 mTBI allowed lost-time claims by leading occupations
Over the past 10 years, the majority of mTBI lost time injuries have occurred in two of the 16 sectors, Services and Schedule 2. In both the Services and Schedule 2 sectors, mTBIs occur at a greater percentage in comparison to other sectors. Services represents 24% of all allowed lost time injuries, however represents 28% of all mTBI lost time injuries. Schedule 2 represents 24% of all allowed lost time injuries, however represents 27% of all mTBI lost time injuries.
Since 2009, contact with objects and equipment is the most common event representing 56% of all mTBIs.
Structures is the most common injury source representing 33% of all mTBIs.
Average days lost at 1 & 3 Months
Over the past 10 years, on average an mTBI injury has 9 days of lost time 1 month post injury and 18 days 3 months post injury. In addition, average days lost at 1 and 3 months have increased for mTBI lost time injuries.
Health care programs and services for mild traumatic brain injuries
Program of Care for mild traumatic brain injuries
When someone experiences a workplace injury or illness, we’re here to help them access the health care they need to recover and return to work. We take an integrated approach to health care that includes community and regional programs where people can get evidence-based treatment for specific types of injuries.
This integrated approach includes a Program of Care for mild traumatic brain injuries. This program is an evidence-based health care delivery plan that describes treatments shown to work for people who are diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury. We developed it in partnership with health care professionals and advocates for people with workplace injuries and illnesses, and employer representatives.
The goals of the mild traumatic brain injury Program of Care are to improve knowledge of common symptoms and complaints associated with mild traumatic brain injuries, to help a person manage the most common symptoms of these injuries and to prevent chronic symptoms.
The objectives of the mild traumatic brain injury Program of Care are to:
- provide best possible evidence-based quality care to people with mild traumatic brain injuries in a timely manner
- promote safe, timely, and sustainable return to work for people in the program
- help the person to return to the best possible pre-injury level of overall function and quality of life.
Neurology Specialty Program
The Neurology Specialty Program provides specialized assessment and treatment services to address the needs of people with brain injuries who experience constant, severe, or worsening symptoms and who have difficulty returning to work. Specialty Program interdisciplinary teams help to identify and address complex recovery needs, while promoting the integration of a sustainable and safe return-to-work plan. In addition to these primary goals, additional goals include to:
- facilitate an optimal recovery of mobility, function, and effective pain management
- review drug therapy for maximum effectiveness and prevention of any medication related complications
- prevent the development/progression or recurrence of clinical issues that may prolong recovery or delay return to work
- promote a healthy lifestyle that fosters an overall sense of well-being and facilitated good physical, emotional and psychosocial health both within and outside the workplace
Comparing 2014 to 2018, the number of claims in a mild traumatic brain injury Program of Care has increased more than eight times, and the number of claims with the Neurology Specialty Program has increased 66 per cent.