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Brain Injury Severity & Types

TBI: Severity and Types

Brain Injury Lawyer in Washington, DC

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by outside forces. Brain injuries often go unnoticed and untreated when no visible head injury is involved, leading to more serious damage and a higher risk of sustaining further injuries. Severity ratings can be misleading with the incongruous long-term results causing frustration and confusion for victims.

If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys for legal representation. We offer FREE case evaluations and are available 24/7.

Understanding severity and the Glasgow Coma Scale

Severity of brain injury is rated by a system called the Glasgow Coma Scale. The severity of a brain injury does not always determine the amount of long-term damage or the outcome for the victim. Severity refers only to the initial damage, not the long-term damage.

The area of the brain which is injured typically determines the outcome of the injury, rather than initial severity rating. A mild brain injury, requiring little or no medical treatment, can cause long-term disability if it damages a crucial part of the brain.

Mild Brain Injury

A mild brain injury can occur with no loss of consciousness or very brief loss of consciousness, and leaves the victim feeling dazed or confused.

Moderate Brain Injury

A moderate brain injury causes a loss of consciousness for several minutes or several hours, and confusion which may last for weeks or months.

Severe Brain Injury

A severe brain injury causes a loss of consciousness that lasts for days, weeks, or months, and can result in a coma, vegetative state, or "locked-in" syndrome.

Types of Brain Injury

Any type of brain injury can have serious long-term consequences. Some brain injuries do not involve visible head injuries, and often go undetected and untreated, leaving the victim vulnerable to further damage and additional injuries. An impact to the head is not necessary for TBI to occur.


Concussions are the most common form of TBI. They can be caused by an impact to the head or sudden and violent movement. Whiplash is a common cause of concussion. People tend to believe that a concussion is a fairly minor injury, and that any danger or damage from a concussion goes away within 24 hours or a few days. This could not be farther from the truth.

A concussion can cause damage to the cranial nerves, and can take months or years to heal. Even though a concussion does not always cause a loss of consciousness, the damage can leave victims vulnerable to very serious TBI should a second injury occur before the concussion has fully healed.


Brain contusions are typically caused by an impact to the head. A contusion is simply a bruise, and any part of the body can become bruised, usually with little or no permanent damage. Bruising of the brain is very serious because it means that the brain is bleeding, one of the primary causes of serious and long term damage.

Coup-Contrecoup Contusion

The brain can become bruised both on the side of impact and on the opposite side if an impact to the head is forceful enough to jar the brain, causing it to strike the other side of the skull.


A penetration brain injury is just what it sounds like - an injury caused by an object penetrating the skull and entering the brain.

Diffuse Axonal

If a violent or rapid movement causes the skull to move faster than the brain, nerves and other brain tissue can be torn. This is called diffuse axonal TBI. Whiplash can cause this type of injury.

In addition to these primary types of TBI, second impact syndrome can occur after any type of brain injury. Second impact syndrome simply means sustaining a second brain injury before the first brain injury has healed. This is typically far more damaging than the original injury and often results in permanent disability or death.

Call for a FREE Consultation!

If you or your loved one has experienced any type of brain injury, allow a member of our legal team to review your case and explain how you may be entitled to compensation. Our Washington, DC personal injury lawyers represent clients throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Contact our firm today!