What Is the Definition of a TBI?

Brain Injury

Definition of a TBITBI is an abbreviation for a traumatic brain injury. The most common type of TBI is a concussion, medically referred to as a mild TBI. Traumatic brain injuries encompass a wide range of injuries people suffer after experiencing a direct or indirect trauma to the head.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a TBI as any injury that disrupts the brain’s normal function due to a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. Almost three million people per year receive emergency treatment for TBIs, including over 300,000 TBI victims hospitalized and thousands who die.

If you, your child, or another loved one has suffered a TBI due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you could receive compensation for damages related to the injury. It’s in your best interest to contact an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney to discuss the circumstances of your TBI. Even concussions can impact you for life, so do not delay.

Until you have the chance to consult with a lawyer, this short guide provides more information about TBIs, how they occur, types of TBIs, and their long-term effects.

What Causes a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Slip and fall accidents are common culprits of TBIs, especially in elders and young children. Yet, all age groups are at risk for a TBI when certain events occur.

Some common situations that result in head traumas and potentially lead to a TBI include:

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Medical professionals categorize TBIs into five main groups. Here is a broad overview of each type of traumatic brain injury:


A concussion occurs when trauma causes a person’s head and brain to move back and forth quickly. This action causes the brain to move around or twist inside the skull, leading to permanent brain damage. Concussions are mild to the extent that they are typically not fatal injuries. However, those who suffer a concussion sometimes face lifelong consequences. Concussions can be especially dangerous when blood pools on the brain, called a hematoma. If left untreated, a hematoma can lead to death.


A contusion injury occurs when the brain suffers bruising. Bruises are a result of burst capillaries. When the capillaries in the brain rupture and cause bruising, victims face bleeding and swelling at the site of their brain injury. Contusions are often associated with skull fractures and blunt force trauma to the head, but they can occur at other times. Additionally, a loss of consciousness often accompanies a contusion, and the pressure of the bruise can lead to a blood clot in the brain that doctors must surgically remove.

Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injury

Coup-contrecoup brain injuries occur on one side of the brain, but the trauma accrues to the opposite side of the brain. The brain’s action during a coup contrecoup brain injury is similar to bungee jumping or stretching a rubber band. The trauma to the head occurs so hard on one side that the brain bounces to the other side of the skull. The force leads to damage, which you can think of like a double contusion, on both sides of the brain. Patients face an elevated risk for hematomas, blood clots, and other life-threatening conditions. Coup-contrecoup brain injuries require immediate medical attention and possible surgery to avoid coma or death.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

Concussions are forms of diffuse axonal injuries, which occur when the brain moves inside the skull. The movement tears fibers that connect the brain to the skull and disrupt normal brain function. Many have heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS); this is an example of what occurs when babies suffer a diffuse axonal injury from abuse. Others can also suffer these severe TBIs from slip and fall accidents and traffic collisions.

Those who suffer severe diffuse axonal injuries suffer permanent brain damage and risk being in a coma for an extended time or until they die. In other cases, victims who suffer diffuse axonal injuries live in a permanent vegetative state (PVS). About one-third of all patients who suffer a diffuse axonal injury die, especially if they do not receive immediate treatment. Less than half who suffer diffuse axonal injuries make a full recovery.

Penetrating Brain Injury

A penetrating brain injury is the most severe of all TBIs and is often due to intentional harm or blunt trauma to the head. Guns, knives, traffic accidents, and other types of accidents can lead to a penetrating brain injury when an object or projectile goes through the scalp and skull. Penetrating brain injuries are life or death scenarios. Those who survive typically have some permanent brain damage, which varies based on the location of the injury, how fast an object entered the skull, the size of the object, and the type of object that caused the injury.

TBI Victims Face Long-term Complications

You or your loved one can potentially stop brain damage by seeking immediate medical treatment. However, many TBI patients face at least some permanent brain damage. Infants, toddlers, and teenagers are especially vulnerable to long-term issues from a TBI because the human brain does not fully develop until an adult is well into their twenties. Brain injuries stunt or slow development in one or more areas.

TBI patients face various complications that can include:

  • Struggles with memory and difficulty with cognitive functions such as reasoning and logic
  • Abnormal sensations such as numbness, tingling, or ringing in the ears
  • Loss of touch, smell, vision, and hearing
  • Struggles with balance
  • Hughey Law Firm Truck Accident LawyersDifficulty communicating, forming sentences, and making sounds to make words
  • Troubles understanding and expressing feelings
  • Personality changes
  • Permanent vegetative state (PVS) or coma

If you have further questions, an experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer can help you learn more about your injuries, and how to develop a plan for moving forward following a TBI. Contact Hughey Law Firm for a free consultation today to learn more about your legal options.