Traumatic brain injuries, also known as TBIs, are common injuries that send thousands of accident victims to emergency rooms each year. When diagnosing a brain injury, a doctor will classify the injury as mild, moderate or severe. The classification is based on the nature and gravity of the injury. Learning the difference between brain injury classifications can help you understand you or a loved one’s prognosis as a TBI victim.

Mild Brain Injuries

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a scoring system that helps physicians understand the severity of a brain injury. It uses the level of consciousness that a person has after an acute injury, such as after a car accident or sports concussion, to determine the severity of the injury. It gives a certain number of points for different signs of consciousness: eye opening, verbal response, and motor response. On the Glasgow Coma Scale, a mild brain injury has a score of 13 to 15.

Mild brain injuries cause less than 30 minutes of lost consciousness or no loss of consciousness at all. The victim may experience a brief alteration to his or her consciousness or mental state lasting up to 24 hours. Temporary memory loss that lasts up to 24 hours may also occur with a mild brain injury. Typically, a victim with a mild brain injury may notice symptoms such as a headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, lethargy, and mild confusion. However, the brain will appear normal on a scan. The symptoms of a mild brain injury are usually temporary.

Moderate Brain Injuries

An accident victim may be diagnosed with a moderate brain injury if he or she loses consciousness for 30 minutes to 24 hours and/or an altered mental state for up to 24 hours. Post-traumatic amnesia may last between one day and one week with a moderate brain injury. The symptoms of a moderate brain injury can include:

  • Confusion
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Cognitive issues
  • Changes in motor skills
  • Behavioral changes

These symptoms may last several months or longer. Moderate brain injuries rank 9 to 12 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. There may be signs of a moderate brain injury on neuroimaging scans, such as abnormal structural imaging. Many patients with moderate brain injuries make full or nearly full recoveries with medical treatments. However, in some cases, patients suffer lasting symptoms or disabilities.

Severe Brain Injuries

If an accident victim suffers a severe brain injury, he or she may show signs such as a loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours (coma) or a long-term vegetative state. Other symptoms of a severe brain injury include seizures or epilepsy, clear fluids draining from the ears or nose, weakness or numbness in the fingers and toes, profound confusion, and lasting memory loss. Some patients with severe brain injuries pass away, with or without ever regaining consciousness. 

A severe brain injury is a 3 to 8 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. It is possible to see a severe brain injury on neuroimaging tests and structural imaging scans. Severe brain injuries often require stays in intensive care units and hospitals, as well as long-term treatments such as physical therapy and rehabilitation. Even with medical treatments, many victims with severe brain injuries experience long-lasting or permanent physical and mental health problems.

Diagnosed With a Brain Injury? Contact an Attorney for Legal Advice

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a mild, moderate, or severe brain injury, seek legal counsel from the San Antonio brain injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Maloney & Campolo. We believe that there is no such thing as a mild brain injury. All brain injuries are serious and can have lasting effects on a victim’s physical, mental and emotional state. Working with a brain injury attorney can help you protect your legal rights in the fight for justice and fair financial compensation for a brain injury.