The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Diagnostic Criteria for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation




Brain Injury; Concussion; Consensus; Craniocerebral Trauma; Diagnostic


OBJECTIVE: To develop new diagnostic criteria for mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that are appropriate for use across the lifespan and in sports, civilian trauma, and military settings. DESIGN: Rapid evidence reviews on 12 clinical questions and Delphi method for expert consensus. PARTICIPANTS: The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Brain Injury Special Interest Group convened a Working Group of 17 members and an external interdisciplinary expert panel of 32 clinician-scientists. Public stakeholder feedback was analyzed from 68 individuals and 23 organizations. RESULTS: The first two Delphi votes asked the expert panel to rate their agreement with both the diagnostic criteria for mild TBI and the supporting evidence statements. In the first round, 10 of 12 evidence statements reached consensus agreement. Revised evidence statements underwent a second round of expert panel voting, where consensus was achieved for all. For the diagnostic criteria, the final agreement rate, after the third vote, was 90.7%. Public stakeholder feedback was incorporated into the diagnostic criteria revision prior to the third expert panel vote. A terminology question was added to the third round of Delphi voting, where 30 of 32 (93.8%) expert panel members agreed that 'the diagnostic label 'concussion' may be used interchangeably with 'mild TBI' when neuroimaging is normal or not clinically indicated.' CONCLUSIONS: New diagnostic criteria for mild TBI were developed through an evidence review and expert consensus process. Having unified diagnostic criteria for mild TBI can improve the quality and consistency of mild TBI research and clinical care.


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences