What is mTBI?

Mild traumatic brain injury may result from a blow or jolt that disrupts the function of the brain.  For veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, explosions and blasts are the leading causes of mTBI. 

What are some of the symptoms?

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems
  • Problems with balance, hearing and vision.

Why is mTBI so hard to diagnose?

Many veterans with symptoms of mTBI also have symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, mTBI symptoms can mimic those of PTSD and other medical conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

What can I do?

  • It is generally believed that the brain can heal after a concussive event according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.  Some suggestions to help healing are:
  • Tell someone: talk to your family and friends about your symptoms.  Feeling a sense of support from your community is one of the most effective ways of reducing the emotional impact of mTBI.
  • Get plenty of sleep and rest during the day.
  • Reduce your activity level and return to your “normal” activity level slowly.
  • Avoid all activities that could lead to an additional brain injury.  Always wear seat belts while driving and helmets in all wheeled, snow or climbing activities. 
  • Avoid contact sports.
  • Reframe from alcohol consumption and non-prescription drug use.  If you are prescribed a medication for another condition, inform your medical provider of your mTBI symptoms.

For other problems associated with mTBI:

Memory: carry a planner with space for notes.  Write anything down that is needed to be remembered.  Always put important items in the same place when not in use (such as house and car keys). 

Concentration: If easily distracted, focus on one thing at a time in a quiet non-distracting environment.

Irritability: quite literally, walk away from the irritating situation.  If driving, pull over or exit the freeway.  Use relaxation techniques.  Get plenty of rest as being tired or sleep deprived will reduce your ability to manage irritability.

AND: inform your primary medical practitioner and/or be seen in a Veterans Administration health care facility.  VA Puget Sound Health Care System

Make an appointment with UW Bothell Student Mental Health Counseling Services at: 425.352.3183

To learn more, visit:

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Invisible Wounds"  Mental Health and Cognitive Care Needs of America’s Returning Veterans.” RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, 2008.