15 to 20 years ago, it was largely believed that diffuse axonal injuries would occur solely in the context of moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries. But as our imaging technology has improved and we are able to scan the brain at more detailed levels, brain researchers are finding that cellular damage from even mild traumatic brain injuries are more prevalent than previously thought.
Someone does not have to be knocked out to suffer a mild physiological disruption of brain functioning – or mild traumatic brain injury. Someone may simply exhibit initial symptoms of being dazed, confused and disoriented for some time. They can then go on to handle normal activities, like driving a car or reentering a football game after suffering a mild concussion. The person’s thinking will be affected, but engaging in ingrained learned behaviors may pose no problem (i.e. driving a car and an NFL quarterback throwing a football do not require thought because both have been repeated so many times); but the person driving the car and the NFL superstar may then, shortly thereafter, forget segments of their day and exhibit other symptoms of mild-traumatic brain injury.