Types of TBI
A TBI can range from a mild to a severe injury. These classifications are assessed by emergency and medical personnel using the Glasgow Coma Scale, or GCS. The GCS is based on a 15-point scale that measures certain TBI symptoms associated with each level of injury. The GCS measures motor, verbal and eye responses to gauge the level of injury and chance of survival with a lower number demonstrating a more severe injury.
Different types of TBI can be caused by many different brain injuries and there are many factors to consider when determining a diagnosis. Some injuries concern the bruising and swelling of the brain, while others involve a crack or intrusion of the skull.
The following are common types of TBI:
A concussion, by itself, is one of the least serious and most common types of TBI. Many consider concussions to be “mild” TBI’s, but in reality there is no such thing as ‘mild’ when it comes to a traumatic brain injury. Concussions are trauma-induced alterations of the alert state and can result in momentary unconsciousness and lead to complications including permanent long term damage, blood clots, or death. It could take a concussion anywhere from several days to a few years to heal completely. Concussions can result from both open and closed head injuries.
Although not technically a TBI, whiplash often induces a traumatic brain injury. Whiplash occurs when the soft tissues of the neck are injured by a sudden jerking or “whipping” of the head. This type of motion strains the muscles and ligaments of the neck beyond their normal range of motion. When a vehicle stops suddenly in a crash or is struck from behind, a seat belt will keep a person’s body from being thrown forward. But the head may snap forward, then backward, causing whiplash. In addition to car accidents, whiplash can be caused by roller coasters and other amusement park rides, sports injuries, or being punched or shaken (whiplash is one of the hallmarks of shaken baby syndrome). You may feel pain and stiffness in your neck for the first few days following a whiplash injury, then feel better, only to have the pain and stiffness come back several days later. This symptom can last for months or years. The discomfort you feel may involve surrounding muscle groups in your head, chest, shoulders, and arms.