The brain is a very complicated organ that performs many functions. It controls life sustaining activities like breathing, while also managing physical movements, language skills, creativity, problem-solving abilities and more. Because we require our brains to complete such a wide variety of functions, it can be life-altering when a brain is injured. However, not all traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the same.

Different kinds of force and amounts of force can cause different kinds of injuries to a brain. This can result a wide variety of symptoms which can be expressed. Symptoms can also vary based on the part of the brain that received an injury. With so many variables at play, it is safe to assume every person’s experience of a TBI is unique. However, TBIs are generally categorized by type and severity.

Types of TBIs

The most common type of TBI is a concussion, which can be caused by an impact, sudden momentum or a movement change. These types of force can cause blood vessels to stretch, nerves to be damaged, the skull to fracture, bleeding of the brain or swelling of the brain.

A contusion is a bruise on the brain caused by direct impact to the head. Often, large contusions need to be removed. When the force is strong enough to cause a bruise on the site of impact as well as the opposite side of the brain, it is called a coup-contrecoup. This happens if the force of impact was enough to move the brain within the skull.

When the head is shaken or forcefully rotated, a diffuse axonal injury can occur. When this type of force occurs, the brain does not move at the same rate as the skull, causing brain structures to tear and sometimes causing chemicals to be released in the brain.

A penetration injury occurs when an object forcefully enters the brain. Often, hair, skin and bone can enter the brain along with the object.

Severity of TBIs

The severity of a TBI is classified as either mild, moderate or severe based on the symptoms that someone experiences. Symptoms of a mild TBI may not involve loss of consciousness or may include a brief loss of consciousness. Scans of the brain may appear normal, but the person is dazed or confused at the time of the injury.

Symptoms of a moderate TBI includes a loss of consciousness lasting from a few minutes to a few hours and confusion that lasts days or weeks. Physical, cognitive or behavioral impairments may last months or could be permanent.

Symptoms of a non-fatal severe TBI may include coma or amnesia. Symptoms can also include temporary or permanent changes to motor skills, thought, sensation, language, or emotions.

If you or a loved one have recently been in a car accident or another accident which involved force to the head, it is important to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible, so any potential TBI can be caught and treated early. If you or your loved one suffered a TBI because of someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be able to receive compensation to help cover medical expenses and lost income.