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Albany Med Today

Orthopaedists Should Watch for Brain Injuries

Calling minor traumatic brain injuries a major health problem, an article written by Albany Med physicians notes that orthopaedists can play a significant role in diagnosing and monitoring patients for potentially serious brain trauma that often accompanies other injuries.

In the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, lead author Richard Uhl, MD, chief of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, said minor traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) occur in as many as 50 percent of significant bodily accidents, but may not be apparent until after patients return to their routines.

He said orthopaedists are in a unique position to detect mTBI because they are often monitoring patients’ recoveries over a significant period of rehabilitation and are sometimes the only caregiver following a patient after what may appear to be an isolated orthopaedic injury.

“Undetected minor traumatic brain injuries can have very serious long-term implications for patients,” Dr. Uhl said.

Subtle signs and symptoms of mTBI include headache, fatigue, memory loss, altered mood and inability to concentrate, among others.

The paper notes that while patients who come in to Albany Med for treatment of blunt trauma are evaluated by emergency and trauma physicians to determine potential brain injuries, Albany Med’s orthopaedic surgery team also is trained to assess each patient for the presence of mTBI.

Joining Dr. Uhl in the article were Christopher King, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, resident Andrew Rosenbaum, MD, orthopaedic surgeon Michael Mulligan, MD, ’03, and resident Cory Czajka, MD.

Orthopaedists practice at Albany Med in association with Capital Region Orthopaedics.