Categories of Brain Injury

‘Acquired brain injuries’ describe brain injuries that were not sustained before or during a person’s birth; they were sustained after birth.

‘Traumatic brain injuries’ refers to head injuries that are caused by trauma, which in turn causes the brain to suffer injury.

The severity of a brain injury establishes the injury category it falls into. Severity is determined by the effects of the brain injury on the injured person, which is dependant upon the area of the brain that is damaged and the extent to which it is damaged.

Brain injuries are classed as either minor, moderate or severe.

Minor Brain Injuries

This least severe category of brain injury includes relatively common injuries, such as concussion and fainting, which always have short term effects that can sometimes lead to longer term complications.

Symptoms of minor brain injuries may include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor memory
  • Mild confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Moderate Brain Injuries

This category of brain injury causes a loss of consciousness lasting more than 15 minutes but not exceeding 6 hours and a period of amnesia that persists for less than 24 hours.

Moderate brain injuries will cause similar symptoms to that of minor brain injuries, although they are likely to be more severe, persistent and debilitating.

The persistent and lengthy nature of moderate brain injury symptoms can have life-changing effects, even if those effects do not usually last longer than 12 months. A person may not be able to perform tasks that were previously second nature to them and may suffer from personality changes which mean they are not quite the person that they were before the injury. This can be frustrating, confusing and often quite distressing for an injured person and their family.

Severe Brain Injuries

This category of brain injury causes a loss of consciousness lasting more than 6 hours and a period of amnesia that exceeds 24 hours.

Severe brain injuries have permanent, life-altering effects that are likely to hospitalise a person for a lengthy period of time and make them unable to lead an independent life once they are discharged from hospital due to the effects of their injury, which usually cause a variety of physical and mental disabilities.