4 Types of Brain Injuries and 3 Levels of Severity

Brain trauma is a common accident injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, a brain injury could result in permanent physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments. Seeking prompt medical care can help reduce the risk of developing permanent brain damage after an accident. 

Brain Injury Symptoms Based on the Level of Severity

Medical providers base the severity level of a brain injury on the person’s Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, memory loss, and consciousness. However, other factors may play a role in diagnosing the severity of a brain injury.

There are three levels of severity of traumatic brain injury – mild TBI, moderate TBI, and severe TBI. 

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

A mild TBI generally does not cause a loss of consciousness. If a person loses consciousness, it is for less than 30 minutes. 

Symptoms of a mild TBI include:

  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Vision problems 
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems 
  • Problems sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Sensitive to light or sound
  • Problems with attention and concentration
  • Anxiety, irritability, and feeling more emotional
  • Fatigue 
  • Confusion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth

Memory loss lasts less than 24 hours, and the GCS score is between 13 to 15. A mild TBI usually heals within a few weeks with time and rest.

Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury

A moderate TBI can result in unconsciousness for more than 30 minutes. Some individuals could be unconscious for up to 24 hours. 

Symptoms of a moderate TBI include the symptoms of a mild TBI. Additional symptoms that indicate the brain injury is more severe than a mild case include:

  • Headaches that get worse or won’t go away
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs and arms
  • Repeated bouts of nausea or vomiting
  • Unable to wake up from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Larger than normal pupils in one or both eyes
  • Increased restlessness, confusion, or agitation
  • Loss of coordination 

Memory loss lasts between 24 hours to seven days. The GSC score is between 9 to 12. Prompt medical attention is required with a mild TBI.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

A severe TBI can result in a loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours. The GSC score is eight or lower. Memory loss lasts for more than seven days.

The symptoms of a severe TBI can be the same as a mild TBI and moderate TBI. However, the symptoms may be more severe, and the person could have several symptoms. Immediate medical attention is required for a severe TBI.

Diagnosing and Treating Moderate TBI and Severe TBI

In addition to the GCS score, memory loss, and consciousness, doctors may use a variety of tests to diagnose the severity of a brain injury. For example, a doctor may order a CT scan or MRI to determine if the brain is bleeding or bruised. There are also a variety of cognition tests and tests and neuropsychological assessments. 

Treatments for moderate and severe TBI may include one or more medications to treat TBI symptoms. In addition, the person may require one or more rehabilitation therapies, including speech, occupational, physical, and cognitive therapies. Vocational and psychological counseling may also be needed.

In the worst cases, a person may need brain surgery. The surgeon may need to remove hematomas and damaged or dead brain tissue. The surgeon may need to repair skull fractures or relieve pressure in the skull from swelling or bleeding.

Four Common Types of Brain Injuries 

Car accidents, falls, workplace accidents, and other incidents can cause a traumatic brain injury. In addition, brain injuries may be caused by blunt force trauma, closed head injury, or penetrating head injury. 

A brain injury may be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain (anoxic trauma). Drowning, choking, toxic substances, and drugs could result in anoxic trauma. 

You may file a personal injury case for any type of brain injury. However, these four types of brain injury are commonly caused by accidents that would lead to a personal injury case.


Concussions are the most common type of brain injury. They are also referred to as mild TBIs. Blunt force trauma and closed head injuries are common causes of concussion. The person may strike their head on an object, or an object strikes the head. 

Closed head injuries are caused by falls, rear-end accidents, and other incidents that cause the brain to “bounce” around within the skull. The violent movement of the head causes the brain to shift. As the brain moves, it strikes the hard skull causing damage to brain tissues and blood vessels.

Injuries may appear directly under the point of impact, on the opposite side of the head, or on both sides of the head. 

Penetrating Brain Injuries

The injury is caused by an object penetrating the skull to enter the brain. A penetrating brain injury leads to bleeding and the death of brain cells. Complications from penetrating brain injuries include brain swelling, bleeding, blood clots, stroke, and loss of oxygen from lack of blood circulation in the brain.

Anoxic Brain Injuries and Contusions

Anoxic brain damage is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Brain cells begin to die after four minutes without oxygen. Drowning is a common cause of anoxic brain injury. However, damage to the blood vessels caused by trauma could prevent oxygen from reaching the brain.

Contusions occur when the brain strikes the skull causing bruises on the brain. Bleeding at the bruise site can cause the brain to swell. If the swelling cannot be relieved, the brain may experience a lack of oxygen.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

Diffuse axonal injury or DAI is similar to other types of brain injuries that begin with the brain shifting within the skull. The long connecting fibers are torn from the brain. The result can be severe brain damage in multiple locations on the brain.

Are You Entitled to Compensation for a Brain Injury?

Maybe. If the brain injury resulted because of another party’s negligence, intentional acts, or other wrongdoing, you might receive economic damages and non-economic damages.  You must prove that the other party’s owed you a duty of care and then breached the duty of care. The breach was the direct cause of your brain injury and damages.

Contact the San Diego Brain Injury Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information

The easiest way to know whether you have a valid claim is to consult with a brain injury lawyer in San Diego. The lawyer reviews the case and explains your options for seeking compensation. Call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney or contact us online.

If you’ve been injured in San Diego or Chula Vista, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a brain injury lawyer or contact us online.

We proudly serve San Diego County and throughout California.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108

(619) 777-5555

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – Chula Vista Office
690 Otay Lakes Rd #130, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 722-3032

We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – El Paso Office
201 E Main Suite 106, El Paso, Texas 79901
(915) 591-1000