What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain that is a sudden, external, physical assault that damages the brain.
Hopkins Medical

Although more mild traumatic brain injuries may only affect brain cells temporarily, a more serious injury to the brain can can cause swelling, bruising, bleeding, or tearing of the brain tissue. Traumatic brain injuries can result in long-term complications and even death. Based on the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019 there were over 200,000 TBI-related hospitalizations. This represents over 611 hospitalizations and 176 TBI-related deaths per day.

Elderly individuals aged 75 years and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and deaths, and males are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized as the result of a TBI than women.

Types of TBI

Even if a person believes their head and/or brain injury is mild, they can still suffer serious and long-lasting effects if the condition is left treated. TBIs are categorized by severity as follows:

  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A mild TBI is identified by loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes, if at all, as victims may only appear to be confused or disoriented. In these cases, medical professionals will look closely at the victim’s mental functioning to determine the severity of the brain injury.
  • Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury: A moderate TBI is characterized by loss of consciousness that may last up to a few hours and confusion that can last up to weeks. With a moderate TBI, complications can last for months and could be permanent. These complications can be physical, cognitive, or behavioral and require multiple treatments to address the varied and serious medical conditions.
  • Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: Severe TBIs come from crushing blows or penetrating injuries to the skull and brain. This level of TBI is life-threatening and victims are unlikely to return to the life they had before suffering their brain injury. While closed head injuries can cause severe brain trauma, typically a severe TBI is the result of an open head injury where the skull has been seriously compromised.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

While traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe, there are several different symptoms of TBI that are important to identify as many symptoms won’t appear immediately. Victims of a TBI should always continue to monitor their symptoms after the injury. Most often, those who suffer a TBI experience symptoms including but not limited to:

  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Spinning sensations
  • Mild confusion
  • Nausea
  • Ringing in the ears or tinnitus
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Coordination problems
  • Disorientation
  • An inability to focus the eyes
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Memory loss
  • Mood changes
  • Clear fluid leaking from the ears and/or nose

With these symptoms in mind, some of the most common types of traumatic brain injury include:


Concussions occur when an impact to the head is severe enough to cause brain injury. These injuries are most often the result of the brain hitting and bouncing against the skull. Due to the forces of sudden acceleration and deceleration, concussions are one of the most common injury symptoms after a car accident. Although the loss of function that is often associated with a concussion may be temporary, repeated concussions can eventually lead to more serious conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can cause permanent damage.


Any sort of brain injury has the potential to cause edema or swelling of the brain. Despite all sorts of injuries causing swelling of the surrounding area, brain swelling is much more serious. This is because the skull cannot stretch or move to accommodate brain swelling, which can lead to a buildup of pressure in the brain that causes it to press against the skull.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

A diffuse axonal injury refers to an injury to the brain that does not cause bleeding but does damage the brain cells. The damage to these brain cells results in them not being able to function properly and can sometimes result in swelling of the brain. While these injuries are not as outwardly visible as other forms of TBI, a diffuse axonal injury can lead to permanent brain damage or death.


A hematoma is the clotting of blood particles outside of the blood vessels. A hematoma can be incredibly serious when it occurs in the brain. The clotting can cause pressure buildup inside the skull and can cause victims to lose consciousness and/or result in permanent brain damage.


A hemorrhage is uncontrolled bleeding. Bleeding within the space around the brain is often referred to as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, while bleeding within the brain tissue is called an intracerebral hemorrhage. Subarachnoid hemorrhages often result in headaches and vomiting. An intracerebral hemorrhage can cause pressure to build up within the brain over time.

Skull Fracture

Unlike most of the bones in the human body, the skull does not have any bone marrow, making it incredibly strong and difficult to break. However, when a skull is broken in a severe injury, it is unable to absorb the impact of the blow, making it much more likely that damage to the brain will be present.

Texas Brain Injury Lawyers

When a loved one experiences a head injury after a car accident or suffers a head injury in a work accident, it should be taken with the utmost seriousness. While arguably some injuries to the head may be relatively minor, some can result in a traumatic brain injury, which can be life-changing for the victim and their loved ones. Knowing the ins and outs of what a traumatic brain injury is and how victims can hold potentially negligent parties accountable when pursuing compensation for injuries from a car accident.

Traumatic brain injuries can be incredibly severe and cause life-altering effects in victims. Recovering from a TBI can be harder when the injury was caused by the negligence of another party that you have to deal with to ensure your medical bills and lost wages are paid. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI due to another individual’s actions or inaction, the personal injury attorneys at Liggett Law Group have the experience, resources, and skills to ensure you and your loved ones receive proper compensation. Contact our office today for a free consultation to evaluate your case.