The Ohio State University (OSU) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Identification Method (OSU TBI-ID) is a standardized procedure for eliciting a person’s lifetime history of TBI via a 3-5 minute structured interview. While not ideal for determining lifetime exposure to potentially damaging brain injury, self-report remains the gold standard for research and clinical use. The OSU TBI-ID has proven useful in many settings, including medical, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, corrections and aging. Health care and social service professionals need this tool to elicit a person’s history of TBI.

View our TBI Identification Method Training Module

Why is it important to screen for TBI?

Research indicates that a person’s lifetime history of TBI is useful for judging current cognitive and emotional states, particularly behavior associated with the executive functioning of the frontal parts of the brain (e.g., planning, impulsivity, addiction, interpersonal abilities). Due to how TBI damages the brain, more exposure (i.e., a worse history of lifetime TBI) increases the likelihood that an individual will struggle with current life stressors, whatever they are.  A person who has compromised functioning in the frontal areas of the brain:

  • adapts less well in new or stressful situations
  • has greater problems following through on recommendations from professionals
  • has more difficulty making lifestyle changes, particularly when rewards are in the future

How does the OSU TBI-ID work and get scored?

The validity of the OSU TBI-ID is not based on elicitation of a perfect accounting of a person's lifetime history of TBI. Instead, the OSU TBI-ID provides a means to estimate the likelihood that consequences have resulted from one’s lifetime exposure. We recommend additional consideration be given to the potential effects of this exposure when:

WORST — there has been one moderate or severe TBI (i.e., any TBI with 30 minutes or more loss of consciousness)
FIRST — TBI with any loss of consciousness before age 15
MULTIPLE — had 2 or more TBIs close together, including a period of time when they experienced multiple blows to the head even if apparently without effect
RECENT — a mild TBI in recent weeks or a more severe TBI in recent months
OTHER SOURCES — any TBI combined with another way that their brain has been impaired

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