Mild traumatic brain injury: implications for social work research and practice with civilian and military populations

Soc Work Health Care. 2013;52(5):498-518. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2012.714447.


Over one million mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) are treated in U.S. hospitals each year. In addition, mTBI has affected thousands of soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Many individuals experience post-concussive symptoms immediately after mTBI; some experience severe and prolonged symptoms. Symptom etiology is not well understood, and effective psychosocial interventions have not been well developed. Because of the high incidence of mTBI, many social workers in health care settings will come in contact with mTBI patients and need specialized knowledge to provide appropriate services. Social work researchers can contribute to improved services by elucidating symptom course, and developing and testing effective interventions aimed at preventing or alleviating symptoms. This article provides an overview of civilian- and military-related mTBI outcomes and psychosocial interventions. Recommendations for current social work practice and research are made with the goal of improving the care of persons with mTBI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Military Personnel* / psychology
  • Social Work / methods*
  • United States