When someone experiences head trauma, that damage can affect the rest of that person’s life. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be caused when someone falls, experiences a car crash, is assaulted or receives a sports injury, among other situations. Because the brain is such a complex organ and every injury is unique, TBIs can affect each person very differently. However, TBIs can be categorized based on the type and severity of injury to the brain.

TBIs can be classified by type

Most traumatic brain injuries can be classified as one of six types of brain injury. One of the most common types is a concussion. This mild form of TBI is usually caused by a bump or jolt to the head, which can occur from a fall, sports injury, car crash, weapon blast or violent shaking.

A diffuse axonal injury is another common TBI. This injury involves the stretching or tearing of axon bundles, which connect different areas of the brain. It is usually caused by rotational forces or sudden deceleration, which can occur in car crashes, falls or sports injuries.

A hematoma occurs when major blood vessels in the brain are damaged and bleeding occurs in and around the brain. Hematomas, which are typically caused by a car crash or a fall, can be further categorized based on where in the brain the bleeding collects.

When small blood vessels bleed in the brain, it causes bruising or swelling. This type of injury is called a contusion.

Coup/contrecoup lesions are contusions or hematomas that occur at the part of the brain that received impact and the part of the brain opposite of the impact. This is caused when the head abruptly decelerated and the brain bounces back and forth in the skull. Car crashes or shaken baby syndrome are often the cause of this type of injury.

Skull fractures occur when one of the bones that form the skull breaks or cracks. This type of injury is typically caused by blunt force trauma, such as that caused by a car crash or assault.

Severity is measured with the Glasgow Coma Scale

One of the most common ways medical professionals will measure the severity of the TBI is by using a scoring system called the Glasgow Coma Scale. The Glasgow Coma Scale measures someone’s level of consciousness through evaluation of his or her eye opening response, verbal response and motor response. Based on the injured person’s overall score, the brain injury can be classified as severe, moderate or mild, and over time the improvement or deterioration of the person’s condition can be measured.

Almost half of all TBIs are caused by falls, although TBIs can also be caused by traffic crashes and other causes. If a loved one has received a traumatic brain injury caused by someone else’s negligence, it may be appropriate to help your loved one seek legal action. While some TBIs are mild and may have little effect on this person’s life, other TBIs can have life-altering consequences. With legal action, your loved one may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other expenses related to the injury.