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How Is Brain Injury Severity Determined?

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Brain injuries typically fall into two categories: a closed head injury versus an open head injury, with the distinction being typically of whether there is a skull fracture or not. If there is a skull fracture, it’s an open injury, and if it’s one without but is a concussive kind of injury, it’s thought of as closed head injury.

The severity levels of brain injuries are thought of medically ranging from mild or minimal brain injury through moderate to severe. From a medical perspective, it’s usually the imaging which really drives the doctors and the emergency room physicians in the use of mild, moderate, or severe. If there is a significant collection of blood, they’re much more likely to use the term moderate or severe. If it is a concussion, a concussive injury without fracture or without bleeding into the brain or the layers around the brain, it’s more likely to be medically categorized as a mild TBI (traumatic brain injury).

That’s not one-in-the-same as measuring somehow the impact upon one’s life because, under many circumstances, you can have an excellent recovery from a severe brain injury, and you can also have, of course, just the opposite: You can have someone with a concussive injury—what’s categorized as a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury—that can have a truly devastating impact on their life or ability to do their job, to maintain relationships.

So, the medical use of the terms mild, moderate, and severe have to be put in the medical context and not the impact upon the individual’s life.

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