Orthopaedic surgeons may play a key role in diagnosing the “silent epidemic” of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) according to a recent study. Literature appearing in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) indicates that falls and motor vehicle accidents are responsible for many cases of mTBI and also a common cause of bone and joint injuries.
Richard L. Uhl, MD, lead study author, orthopaedic surgeon, Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY, adds that, “Musculoskeletal injuries are often seen concurrently with some studies estimating that 50% of patients with orthopaedic injuries also sustain a mTBI.”
In a recent news release, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) outlines a variety of statistics and facts behind mTBI. The release notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control have declared mTBI a major health issue and a silent epidemic. The release also notes that patients with mTBI and lower extremity injuries are three times more likely to experience cognitive and behavioral difficulties at one year post-injury. Study co-author
Andrew J. Rosenbaum, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, recommends that post-mTBI, patients be counseled on their vulnerability to second-impact syndrome.
“Second-impact syndrome can have devastating consequences, including rapid-onset swelling of the brain; worsening function of the brain, spinal cord, muscles or nerves; and instability of normal body functions,” Rosenbaum emphasizes.
Orthopaedic surgeons, the study concludes, can assist in diagnosing mTBI, as they provide long-term care for traumatic musculoskeletal injuries and can ensure patients are appropriately referred to those with expertise in managing mTBI.