McKinlay, A., Bishop, A., & McLellan, T. (2011)
Brain Injury 25(7-8), 761-766.
While brain injury continues to be represented in the popular press whether through well known personalities who experience injury, athletic injuries or those sustained by servicemen and women, there remands confusion about what is brain injury and how to respond after an injury. Certainly some of this confusion is perpetuated by professionals as they struggles to best define impact beyond the commonly used yet insufficient diagnostic categories of mild, moderate and severe. In particular this is most relevant to the terms used to describe mild traumatic brain injury and concussion.
This most recent article written by Audrey McKinlay and her colleagues from New Zealand continues to verify the importance of providing consistency in the terminology and descriptors used to define brain injury. Their findings indicated, as expected, that few of the responders could accurately identify statements about concussion, more negative attributes were associated with the term brain injury in comparison with the term head injury and those that experienced concussion did not believe they had sustained a brain or head injury. Clearly lay persons have a tendency to graduate the terms with concussion on the lower end of the severity spectrum to brain injury at the higher end of the spectrum. While the population surveyed was a convenient and limited sample, their findings are consistent with other authors. This lack of consistency in terminology that authors argue is also representative of much of the resources available on the internet and in peer-reviewed literature and text books.
The public’s uncertainty about the definition and severity of symptoms also then creates confusion about what type and if healthcare should be sought. While recent efforts to educate the public on brain injury are to be applauded, McKinlay and her colleagues continue to make it clear that as professionals we are obligated to make it easier by providing a consistent terminology that then helps guide the public’s appropriate response to care.
About The Reviewer
Dr. Debra Braunling-McMorrow is an international consultant in brain injury. She was the Vice President of Business Development and Outcomes for NeuroRestorative until 2011. She currently serves on the board of the North American Brain Injury Society and is the recipient of the 2007 NABIS Clinical Service Award. Dr. McMorrow is a past chair of the American Academy for the Certification or Brain Injury Specialists (AACBIS) and has served on the Brain Injury Association of America’s board of executive directors as the Vice-Chair for Program Outcomes. She has published in numerous journals and books and has presented extensively in the field of brain injury rehabilitation and has been working for persons with brain injuries for over 25 years. She