What Are the Long-Term Effects of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?

long-term effects of traumatic brain injury

Despite the name, the long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury can be anything but mild.

Migraines, dizziness, depression and cognitive impairments are just a few of the symptoms that accompany a mild TBI, and these symptoms can last for months, sometimes years, post-injury.

It can be overwhelming and frankly quite scary to think about the effects your injury may have on your future.

But do not worry, this article is here to help walk you through everything you need to know about the long term long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury and what you can do to treat it.

Even though it might be scary to think about, knowing and preparing for these symptoms is an important first step towards recovery.

So let’s dive in.

What Is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?

A mild TBI is defined as a closed head injury resulting in a loss of consciousness and/or disorientation lasting less than 30 minutes. Concussions are the most common types of these injuries.

In the past, most people assumed these injuries had very few lasting consequences. However, many doctors are starting to take mild TBIs more seriously. They now recognize that even small concussions can have a long-term effect on patients.

Does Mild TBI Create Side Effects?

Today, there is much research indicating that “a large proportion of individuals with a single mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) will continue to demonstrate measurable impairment in various cognitive domains after the initial injury.

This may sound depressing at first, but it shouldn’t be discouraging.

In fact, for many people it can be a huge relief to know that there is an actual reason behind their sudden loss of abilities. That, for example, they are not crazy for having trouble concentrating or learning new things.

Once you know that your minor head injury is still affecting you, you can take measures to treat it and if necessary, retrain your brain!

But the first step to recovery is to understand and recognize the likely long-term effects of mild brain injury, and that is what we will be covering next.

The Long-Term Effects of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Knowing the lasting side effects of mild TBI can help you manage your recovery better. The following are some of the most common long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury:

1. Migraines

woman experiencing headaches, one of the long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury

Persistent headaches, especially migraines, are a very common effect of minor traumatic brain injury. They can still present themselves long after the initial injury.

2. Light sensitivity

This often goes with a migraine and is one of the most common side effects of mild TBIs.

While this one usually goes away after time, it can sometimes still be present even six months to a year after injury.

3. Sleep problems

You may often find that you are sleepy throughout the day, but restless at night. Insomnia and drowsiness typically go together and are both common side effects of mild traumatic brain injury.

4. Mood swings

long-term effects of mild tbi

This is one many people overlook after a mild TBI, but again it is very common. Your emotions are controlled by your brain, and they are usually one of the things most affected by an injury.

So, if you have felt more em, this may just be another side effect of your TBI.

5. Cognitive impairments

Finally, long term effects of mild traumatic brain injury may include cognitive impairments such as:

  • executive function (e.g. decision making and planning)
  • learning
  • memory
  • attention and processing speed.

6. Depression and anxiety

sad man looking out of window, suffering from depression, one of the most overlooked long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury

This is another symptom of mild TBI that is often missed. Too often after a brain injury, patients will suffer from depression and anxiety, but will not realize it could be their injury causing these symptoms.

Of course, depression is a complex issue that usually stems from multiple sources. But if you experienced a mild traumatic brain injury, it’s possible the two are related.

At any rate, it is worth speaking to a professional psychologist about to see if there is any treatment available.

How Understanding the Long-Term Effects of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Can Help Your Recovery

It can seem disheartening at first, learning about all the side effects of mild traumatic brain injury. Especially knowing that some of them may last years after your injury.

But this knowledge prepares you for the challenges you will face and makes you better equipped to tackle them.

And never forget, even if you do experience some of the long-term effects of mild TBI, traumatic brain injury is not always permanent!

Your brain is a resilient organ, and even with severe damage, it can still rewire itself. So you should never give up hope of regaining your old abilities.