What Is Severe Traumatic Brain Injury?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden
An MRI scan of the brain may be used to help diagnose a traumatic brain injury.
An MRI scan of the brain may be used to help diagnose a traumatic brain injury.

A severe traumatic brain injury is a type of injury that occurs when some sudden external force causes severe harm to the brain. A car accident or a fall from extreme height onto a solid surface, for instance, could cause a traumatic brain injury. Any brain injury can result in a variety of neurological symptoms, including unconsciousness or coma, confusion, sensory disorders, difficulty forming or understanding speech, or any of a range of other problems. Severity of symptoms is generally used to determine the severity of the injury. An individual suffering from a severe traumatic brain injury is generally able to respond very little to external stimuli and often suffers from a very limited ability to move or speak.

Wearing protective helmets during contact sports like football can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.
Wearing protective helmets during contact sports like football can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.

The Glasgow Coma Scale, or GCS, is the most common measurement scale used to judge the severity of a traumatic brain injury shortly after the trauma. Patients are rated on a scale from one to four based on their ability to open their eyes in response to stimuli, a scale of one to five based on their ability to produce sounds or speech, and a scale of one to six based on their motor abilities. The totals of each category are added together. An individual with a rating of three, then, gives no response to stimuli and no indication of consciousness. A rating between three and eight indicates severe traumatic brain injury, while a higher rating indicates that the brain injury is likely less severe.

Luckily, most head injuries aren't severe, and sufferers make a full recovery.
Luckily, most head injuries aren't severe, and sufferers make a full recovery.

Even if one does manage a full return to consciousness after a severe traumatic brain injury, the long-term effects of the injury can be severely debilitating. One may suffer from a variety of cognitive, linguistic, sensory, motor, and other disabilities long after the injury occurred. Some effects may last for one's entire lifetime while others may improve over time. In some cases, intensive therapy can allow one to find ways to cope with the neurological disorders that can result from a severe traumatic brain injury.

In some cases, patients who suffer from a serious concussion may slip into a coma.
In some cases, patients who suffer from a serious concussion may slip into a coma.

There are a variety of different measures that one can take that can greatly diminish the risk of severe traumatic brain injury. The use of seat belts and air bags, for instance, can greatly reduce the risk of serious injuries from car crashes. Wearing protective gear, particularly helmets, during contact sports such as American football can also reduce the risk of severe traumatic brain injury.

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Discussion Comments

Cade03

I have been studying TBI for a while. My advice would be to have a hobby of some sort to release your anger. It works with anger problems. As for your injury, try not to stress. It hurts the brain. (advice is from a 12 year old).

anon280966

My name is Kiambe. I suffered a severe head injury (TBI) back in June of 1990. Overall, I am O.K.. There were obviously numerous injuries, e.g., coma, seizures which are permanent, body cast, countless surgeries, etc.

I heard something about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I have never been evaluated for it. I do know that some parts of my personality changed, e.g., aggressiveness, anger, etc. My family noticed it as soon as I was discharged after six months in the hospital.

I came back home to Lake City, FL for eleven months of outpatient therapy, physical and occupational. I still, feel like there is something that I just don't completely understand. I feel depressed at times and I know that my anger is, probably, on the ridiculous side from time to time. I shudder to think how many people I have snapped at or how many "depressed" days I have had in the past twenty-two years.

I would ask anyone that has had similar experiences or has insight into this type of situation, please post here. I am desperate. I just want to know.

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    • An MRI scan of the brain may be used to help diagnose a traumatic brain injury.
      By: Marcin Sadlowski
      An MRI scan of the brain may be used to help diagnose a traumatic brain injury.
    • Wearing protective helmets during contact sports like football can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.
      By: tammykayphoto
      Wearing protective helmets during contact sports like football can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.
    • Luckily, most head injuries aren't severe, and sufferers make a full recovery.
      By: seraphic06
      Luckily, most head injuries aren't severe, and sufferers make a full recovery.
    • In some cases, patients who suffer from a serious concussion may slip into a coma.
      By: gwimages
      In some cases, patients who suffer from a serious concussion may slip into a coma.
    • Car accidents are a common cause of severe traumatic brain injury.
      By: william87
      Car accidents are a common cause of severe traumatic brain injury.
    • In most cases of severe brain damage, the patient was unconscious for six or more hours.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      In most cases of severe brain damage, the patient was unconscious for six or more hours.