4 Types of Brain Injuries and 3 Levels of Severity

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A traumatic brain injury can cause severe disabilities and permanent impairments. Even if the victim makes a full recovery, the time required to recover from a brain injury can be significant. 

This blog discusses four types of brain injuries and their levels of severity to help you understand the details that could be important for your personal injury case. You can become familiar with the terms that your lawyer, insurance company, and doctors will likely use throughout the legal process.

What Can Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a head injury that can cause problems with brain functioning, including physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. The changes could be temporary or short-term. However, some victims suffer long-term brain injury symptoms, permanent impairments, and lifelong disabilities.

A TBI can occur in one of two ways:

  • Penetrating brain injury occurs when an object fractures the skull and enters the brain. The damage to the brain is often localized to the area where the penetration occurred.
  • Closed head injury (non-penetrating brain injury) refers to brain injuries caused by blunt force trauma to the head or body. The external force causes the brain to move within the skull, causing injury in several locations. 

Common causes of brain injuries include motor vehicle accidents and slip and fall accidents. Other causes include injuries from assaults, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, defective products, and many other personal injury incidents. 

Four Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries Caused by an Accident 

There are many types of brain injuries you may sustain in an accident. Four common types of brain injuries include:


A concussion is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI). Even though the injury is described as “mild,” concussions can have severe effects and long-term symptoms. 

The symptoms of a concussion usually last for a few weeks or months. Most people recover fully. However, some individuals may experience post-concussion syndrome, where they experience symptoms for a year or longer. 

Hypoxic Brain Injuries 

When the brain does not receive sufficient oxygen, you can suffer from a hypoxic brain injury. Causes of hypoxic brain injuries include near-drowning, carbon monoxide exposure, near-hanging, exposure to poisonous gasses, and cardiac arrest. 

The lack of oxygen causes death and impairment of brain cells. Cellular injury can occur within minutes, followed by permanent brain injury.

Second Impact Syndrome 

Subsequent head injuries can cause even more severe brain damage. The effect of a second impact depends on the severity of the first injury, the location of the injury, and the degree of trauma. Sustaining a second head injury within months after a brain injury could result in permanent brain damage and life-threatening conditions. 

Brain Contusions 

Contusions are bruises to the brain. They can cause bleeding and swelling inside the brain. 

A coup brain injury is damage directly below the point of trauma. Contrecoup brain injury is damage directly opposite the point of trauma. Coup-contrecoup brain injury is an injury directly beneath and damage directly opposite the trauma. 

Other types of brain injuries your doctor might diagnose after an accident include but are not limited to:

  • Subdural hematomas
  • Traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Diffuse axonal injury
  • Intracranial hematomas
  • Penetrating brain injury 
  • Edema 

It is crucial that accident victims seek immediate medical treatment for brain injuries. Even if you feel “fine” after an accident, see a doctor for a complete examination. Delayed brain injury symptoms can be extremely dangerous because people may not realize the symptoms are the result of a head injury. 

What Are the Three Levels of Severity for Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Trauma to the head can cause various degrees of brain injury. The level of severity of traumatic brain injury depends on many factors, including the person’s symptoms, the results of imaging tests, and the person’s Glasgow Coma Scale. 

There are three severity levels for traumatic brain injury:

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury 

A mild TBI may or may not cause loss of consciousness. If a person loses consciousness, it doesn’t last more than 30 minutes. You should not judge whether you sustained a brain injury based on whether you lost consciousness. 

Symptoms of mild TBI include:

  • Headaches
  • Troubling thinking clearly
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Vision problems, including blurred or double vision
  • Fatigue
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Problems with concentration and attention
  • Confusion
  • Balance problems

Memory loss and other symptoms may last less than 24 hours. Within a few days or weeks of rest, the signs of a mild TBI usually disappear. A mild TBI has a Glasglow score of 13 to 15.

Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury

A moderate TBI can result in unconsciousness of more than 30 minutes up to 24 hours. 

Symptoms of moderate TBI include the symptoms of mild TBI plus additional signs of brain injury, such as:

  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Headaches that intensify or won’t go away
  • Slurred speech
  • Repeated vomiting and/or nausea
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Larger than normal pupils in one or both eyes
  • Unable to wake from sleep
  • Increased agitation, confusion, and restlessness

Memory loss could last up to seven days with a moderate TBI. The Glasglow score is between nine and 12 for a moderate TBI.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

A severe TBI can result in loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours. The Glasglow score is below nine. Memory loss can last for more than a week.

The signs of a severe TBI include all of the above symptoms for mild and moderate brain injuries. However, symptoms may worsen or be more severe immediately after the head injury. The person may display numerous symptoms with a severe TBI.

What Compensation Can I Recover in a Brain Injury Claim in Santa Ana, CA?

If another party caused the accident or incident that resulted in your brain injury, you may receive compensation for your damages. You could recover economic damages for your medical bills, rehabilitative care, lost wages, property damage, and out-of-pocket expenses. 

Brain injury victims may also receive non-economic damages for their pain and suffering. These damages include compensation for permanent impairments, decreased quality of life, and disfigurement.

A personal injury lawyer in Santa Ana can review your case during a free consultation to advise you of your legal options. Brain injury claims often require expert witnesses to provide opinions and testimony regarding the severity of the injury and the extent of the damages. An lawyer can help you secure the evidence you need to maximize your recovery for a brain injury claim in California.

Contact Robles Babaee, Personal Injury Lawyers or Visit Our Law Firm in Santa Ana for Help Today

Robles Babaee, Personal Injury Lawyers
1851 E 1st St Suite 810, Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 263-3700

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