Heads Up! Tools for Physicians on Diagnosing and Managing Concussion

An estimated 75%-90% of the 1.4 million traumatic brain injury (TBI)- related deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits that occur each year are concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI).

Concussions or MTBIs are caused by a bump or blow to the head that disrupts the way the brain normally works. Symptoms of MTBI or concussion may appear mild, but can result in a number of problems: persistent headache, pain, fatigue, vision or hearing problems, memory problems, confusion, sleep disturbances, or mood changes. Physicians can play a key role in helping to prevent MTBI and in appropriately identifying, diagnosing, and managing it when it does occur.

In an effort to address this important public health problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), in collaboration with an expert work group and professional medical, sports, and voluntary organizations, including the Federal Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program, has recently updated and revised the "Heads Up: Brain Injury in Your Practice" tool kit for physicians.

This tool kit was developed to provide physicians with a more individualized assessment of MTBI and to help guide the management, recovery, and referral of patients with MTBI. One of the key components of the tool kit is the Acute Concussion Evaluation (ACE) assessment tool which can help physicians with the initial evaluation and diagnosis of patients of all ages with a known or suspected MTBI or concussion.

In addition to the ACE, the revised tool kit contains practical, easy-to-use clinical information and tools, such as:

  • The "Facts for Physicians" booklet with information on diagnosis and management of MTBI;
  • The ACE Care Plan, an information sheet to help guide a patient's recovery;
  • Fact sheets in English and Spanish on preventing concussion;
  • A palm card for the on-field management of sports-related concussion; and
  • A CD-ROM with downloadable kit materials and additional MTBI resources.

Consider strategies for how you can ensure that physicians obtain a copy of the tool kit. The "Heads Up: Brain Injury in Your Practice" tool kit can be ordered or downloaded free-of-charge at:http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/Physicians_Tool_Kit.htm.

You may also find the toolkit in your TBI Collaboration Space (TBICS), at http://www.tbitac.nashia.org/tbics/. Once logged in, click on "Products & Resources" on the red horizontal bar, then click the "Product/Resource Look up" link; in the keyword field, enter " Heads Up: Brain Injury in Your Practice" then click the "Search" button. In the next window, click the HTM link under the title to go to the toolkit's website.

To learn more about concussion or MTBI and/or for more information on CDC's TBI-related educational materials, research, and programs, please visit CDC's Injury Center on the Web at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/For questions, please contact CDC toll-free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).