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Mild, Moderate & Severe Brain Injury: How Are They Different?

Understanding How Brain Injuries Are Classified

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury caused by trauma. Examples of trauma that can lead to a TBI include slip and fallscar accidents, and truck accidents. Doctors classify traumatic brain injuries as either mild, moderate or severe.

Severe Brain Injury

Severe brain injuries occur when the brain tissue is either ripped, sheared, torn or penetrated. These injuries are often life-threatening, and treatment may include extensive hospitalization and long-term rehabilitation. Even with treatment, the victim may not be able to return to pre-injury status. He will likely have lasting effects.

Moderate Brain Injury

A brain injury is moderate if the patient regains consciousness within a few minutes to a few hours of the injury. The patient may be confused after awakening, which may last for several days or even weeks. There may be a variety of physical, cognitive, and behavioral effects that can last for several months or longer.

Some of the changes may be permanent. However, patients with moderate brain injury can usually make a more comprehensive recovery with medical treatment and therapy. Many times, they can learn to compensate for any lasting disability.

Mild Brain Injury

A brain injury would be considered “mild” if there was no loss of consciousness or the patient was unconscious for less than five minutes. The accident victim may seem dazed or confused, but the brain may look normal on brain scans. Also known as a concussion, mild brain injuries will usually result in temporary symptoms.

How Common Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

While many studies focus on the impact brain injuries can have on a patient and their family, many fail to detail how common these injuries can be.

In a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, researchers used a refined system to classify brain injuries by the intensity of the force to the head and the long-term physical impact. Their research found that the incidence of traumatic brain injury in the United States is likely to be greater than previously estimated by the CDC.

The Mayo Clinic used a classification system to categorize head injuries along a comprehensive scale. This system allows researchers to study the data at a more detailed level. Researchers labeled patients with “definite,” “probable,” and “possible” TBI based on symptoms such as loss of consciousness, nausea or dizziness.

They discovered that TBIs occur in as many as 558 patients out of 100,000. CDC estimates showed that only 341 patients experience a TBI. This disparity, according to researchers, is due to a large number of injuries falling outside the categorization used by the CDC—even though the patients experienced symptoms of a TBI.

Researchers went on to determine that the elderly and the very young were most at risk for “definite” and “possible” TBI, respectively. In addition, they found that men were more at risk than were women. The study’s author, Dr. Allen Brown, is confident that the new tools available to research historical injury data will help future patients.

Injured? Call Kaufman Law, P.C. for a Free Review.

If you or someone you love has sustained a brain injury from a truck accident, car accident, or other serious accident, contact an Atlanta personal injury lawyer at Kaufman Law, P.C. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling cases such as yours and will work tirelessly to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.


If your loved one is suffering from a TBI, they may have a long road to recovery. Fortunately, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys are here to help. Call Kaufman Law, P.C. to discuss your case and your right to compensation.