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Long-Term Effects of Mild Brain Injuries

Updated February 22, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

When it comes to brain injuries, many people think that only severe injuries warrant legal action. However, even though the medical field has a lot of knowledge about how severe brain injuries can impact someone’s life, there is a lot less attention given to mild-to-moderate injuries to the brain.

Study of Mild Brain Injuries

A study published in July 2014 by Neurology discovered that even mild brain injuries can impact the brain matter and cognition of patients. The study focused on the mild versions of brain injuries since they are the largest group of patients when traumatic brain injury (TBI) breakdowns were examined. Ninety percent of people who suffered from TBIs had mild or moderate injuries.

For this study, 44 people who had a mild TBI (mTBI) were compared with 33 people who had no type of brain injury. They were given two types of tests.


First, all participants took tests known as the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which measured their memory and thinking skills. These tests measured the participants’ verbal activity, general movement, and eye movement.  Patients with scores of 12–15 had mild injuries, since a person who is fully responsive has a score of 15.


Second, the participants had a type of MRI scan that’s more sensitive than the traditional type of MRI, called the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) scan. It better detects brain cell damage and helps with mapping the fiber tracts which connect the regions of the brain.

The people who had injuries to the brain had scans about six days following their injuries. One year later, 23 of those who had injuries went through the scan and tests once again.

Results Show Long-Term Effects

The study discovered that patients with mild brain injuries were scoring 25 percent lower in memory skills and thinking tests in comparison to healthy people. This result was related strongly to the imaging measurements of the damage to the patients’ white matter.

Dr. Andrew Blamire said the study is one of the first steps to understanding and treating mild TBIs, including better education of clinicians, improving recovery, and targeting intervention.

The DTI scans used are unconventional when it comes to mild injuries. But when they were combined with the GCS testing, these tests may be better at identifying patients more properly, compared with CT or traditional MRI scans. The test reveals the true extent and level of a person’s injury right away and helps with understanding a relationship between the patient’s clinical status and what’s happening in their brain.

Further Studies

A study was done in 2020 published in Human Brain Mapping that shows cognitive impairments may worsen with age due to mild TBI. This is because the physiological effects of mTBI affect the aging process. It turns out, in some cases, the brain’s processing speed slows, altering the working memory of a person who had mTBI. The severity of the mild TBI determines whether or not complete recovery is possible. The study shows the potential in improving cognitive functioning after suffering from an mTBI.

Contact a Brain Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a brain injury, contact the Indianapolis Brain Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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