What is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)?

Posted By: Tony Baratta | July 1st, 2015

This blog is the 2nd blog in a series of three that I have written for clients or family members of clients who have sustained a brain injury in an accident of any kind.

A MTBI (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) or Concussions are brain injuries which cannot be observed on x-rays, CT scans or MRIs. It is said that an MRI is not sensitive enough to image the head of a pin and yet 16,000 brain neurons could fit on the head of a pin.

The unseen brain injury is caused by the disturbance of neurons due to trauma. Because the injury can’t be seen, it is not easily diagnosed and is often overlooked, especially when a patient has additional injuries which can be felt, seen and require urgent care (fractured bones, lacerations, neck injuries, etc).

An understanding of anatomy is helpful to understanding how an MTBI is caused. The brain is made up of two types of cells, white matter cells and grey matter cells. The white matter transmits and relays signals. The gray matter surrounds the white matter and it controls processing and cognition.


Neurons (or axons) line the border where the two areas are connected. These neurons function as the communication line between gray matter and white matter. If the communication line is damaged, messages cannot get through.

Neurons can be stretched or damaged in a traumatic event. When this happens it is called a “diffuse injury” because it happens over a large area instead of a single focal point. Often times physicians will call this injury DAI (diffuse axonal injury). This injury occurs as the result of the head being suddenly and violently shaken as what might occur in a whiplash event suffered in a car accident or a fall.

This diffuse axonal injury can lead to a range of physical, mental and emotional problems. The longer the injury goes undiagnosed and untreated the longer and more severe the symptoms may be.

When you or your loved one has suffered any kind of brain injury due to another’s carelessness, and has long term consequences that affect aspects of daily life, it is important that you choose a lawyer who understands that treatment is needed, the kind of treatment that is needed, and can help prove that the unseen injury to the brain is real, and not just “in your head.”

Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is on the board for the Philadelphia VIP, a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2014.


About the Author

Anthony J. Baratta (Tony) is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 50 cases to Juries in State and Federal Courts and has litigated thousands of personal injury and medical malpractice cases in his 30-year career. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and an active board member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is also on the board for the Philadelphia VIP and performs pro bono work for the Laurel House, a non-profit for victims of domestic abuse. In addition, Tony is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys, voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers for the past 14 years, and a 2018 recipient of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Award for the Civil Trial Division.

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