Identifying and Assessing Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Guidelines for EMS and Health Care Providers

Originally presented on December 17, 2015

Lee Burns
Director, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems, New York State Department of Health 

Hamish Kerr, M.D.
Director, Albany Medical Center Sports Concussion Clinic and Team Physician, Siena College

New York State (NYS) has a high prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), with hospitals reporting an average of over 400 TBI incidents each day. While incidence is high, the literature estimates that as much as 50% of brain injuries are unreported.(1)   Emergency Medical Services personnel are on the front lines of encountering persons who have sustained brain injuries and need the skills to recognize symptoms of mild brain injury and how to respond.

The target audience for this program includes community and health professionals that are likely to respond when there is a head injury, such as EMTs, physicians, nurses and school-based medical professionals, as well as personnel in trauma and urgent care centers and other health care facilities. The program will present information on the incidence of mild traumatic brain injury, the populations most impacted by such injuries and the signs/symptoms of mild TBI. Viewers will learn about a pre-hospital assessment that can be used to determine the presence of a possible TBI and how to respond to these cases.

(1) American Association of Neurological Surgeons, August 2014; Marar M, McIlvain NM, Fields SK, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of Concussions Among United States High School Athletes in 20 Sports.  Am J Sports Med 2012;40(4):747-755.

Learning Objectives
After watching this webcast participants will be able to:

  • Describe the impact of brain injuries in New York State, including populations most affected
  • Name at least three symptoms of mild TBI that can be determined through assessment steps in prehospital settings
  • List the four steps of the pre-hospital assessment to determine the presence of a mild brain injury 

NOTE: The New York State Department of Health will provide NYS EMS CME credit hours for EMS providers under core for trauma. After participating in the program, EMS professionals seeking credit will need to complete the evaluation and post-test at and request and print the certificate for General Continuing Education Credits (see below). Certificates can then be submitted to the NYS Department of Health.   

Continuing Education Credits expired for this activity on 12/31/2018. We encourage you to still take the evaluation as it helps towards planning future programs. Thank you!