Skip to main content

UR Medicine


Traumatic Brain Injuries & Concussions

model of a human brainWhat is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury that affects how the brain functions. A TBI can be caused by:

  • Bump or blow to the head
  • Jolt of the head, causing the head and brain to move forward and back quickly
  • A penetrating injury when an object goes through the skull and brain, such as a gunshot

Common causes of TBIs include:

  • Motorized vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle accident
  • Fall
  • Assault
  • Gunshot wound

A TBI can result in changes or deficits in:

  • Attention / Concentration
  • Memory
  • Processing and understanding information
  • Expressive language
  • Planning and organization
  • Reasoning / problem-solving / judgement
  • Behavior changes and impulsivity

What is a concussion or mild TBI?

A concussion is a less severe form of a traumatic brain injury, and is typically non-life threatening.  Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Changes in vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling “in a fog”
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Difficulty sleeping

Recovery from a concussion usually takes days to weeks. Factors that may delay recover from a concussion include:

  • Previous history of a brain injury or concussion
  • Neurological disorder
  • Mental health disorder
  • Learning problems
  • Family and social stress

Common causes of concussions include:

  • Sports related injuries
  • Falls
  • Motorized vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle accident
  • Combat injuries
  • Assault / abuse

When concussion symptoms last beyond 3 months, an individual may be diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome (PCS).  PCS is rare after one concussion, but more likely to occur after multiple head injuries. Individuals with PCS may experience ongoing dizziness, headaches and problems concentrating.

Speech-Language Pathology Evaluation & Therapy

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) have specialty training in evaluating individuals after a concussion or traumatic brain injury. Most patients with these types of deficits are evaluated through the Integrative Cognitive Rehabilitation Program.  For those who do not meet the ICRP inclusion criteria, an individual assessment with a Speech-Language Pathologist, will be completed.  This assessment will evaluate:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Executive functioning
  • Language
  • Visuospatial skills

Using this information, your SLP will identify your areas of cognitive strength and weakness, and develop a tailored therapy plan to help you meet your personal goals. A person-centered approach and focus on life participation will be used to maximize your communication and function across your daily environment.

Additional Information

American Speech-Language Hearing Association

American Association of Neurological Surgeons

Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center

CDC - Concussion

CDC – Severe Brain Injury

Shepard Center – mTBI & Concussion

Brainline – People with Brain Injury

Facts About Brain Injury & Concussion

Family Caregiver Alliance:

Mayo Clinic – Understanding Brain Injury:

Brain Injury Association of America – Brain Injury Guide for Families & Caregivers:

Brain Injury Association of NYS:

Brain Injury Association of America – Concussion / mTBI:

Video Links

Heads Up Recovery From Concussion:

Concussion Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment – The Red Cross: