The Difference Between a Serious and a Mild Brain Injury

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Brain injuries can occur in a variety of accidents, from auto accidents to contact sports impacts. Any time the brain strikes against the inside of the skull, or twists on its stem, it can sustain serious and permanent injuries. Even minor damage to the brain can cause a range of symptoms. Receiving a brain injury diagnosis can be frightening, but the ramifications on you or a loved one’s life will depend on the severity of the injury.

Mild vs. Serious Brain Injuries

A mild brain injury has symptoms that will typically go away with time. Rest is generally all a patient needs for the brain to heal itself, and for the victim to feel like himself or herself again. A serious brain injury, on the other hand, can have permanent symptoms and effects on the victim. Survivors of serious brain injury may be dependent on others for care the rest of their lives. They could suffer debilitating physical challenges such as paralysis or muscle spasticity, as well as cognitive changes that render them incapable of returning to work.

Serious brain injuries are life-changing. Mild brain injuries, on the other hand, most likely will not leave lasting effects. All brain injuries can lead to expensive medical charges, missed time at work, physical pain, and emotional suffering. You or a family member may qualify for compensation for brain injuries if someone else’s negligence caused them. Always seek a physician’s help after any accident that caused a bump to the head. Brain damage is something to take seriously, whether it is mild or severe. A trip to the emergency room could save your life.

What Is Considered a Mild Brain Injury?

Brain injuries carry many different classifications. A traumatic brain injury occurs from external forces, such as a blow to the head. An acquired brain injury arises from internal damage, such as lack of oxygen to the brain. An open head injury involves a fractured skull, while a closed head injury can damage the brain without compromising the bones of the skull. A mild brain injury can cause minor symptoms to the victim that are typically not life-threatening.

  • Headache
  • No loss of consciousness or less than 30 minutes
  • Mild confusion or disorientation
  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Nausea

Most mild brain injuries will show normal MRI and CAT scans; however, the victim could experience a range of light symptoms. The victim will not lose consciousness for longer than 30 minutes or show signs of a more serious brain injury, such as slurred speech or seizures. Treatment for a minor brain injury is typically bed rest, to allow the brain to heal naturally. Most mild brain injuries heal within a few weeks, or three months maximum. A minor concussion is an example of a mild brain injury.

What Is a Serious Brain Injury?

A serious injury refers to more severe damage to the brain, such as a severe concussion or brain hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain). A serious brain injury could cause permanent, irreversible damage to the cells. Symptoms of a serious brain injury may never fully dissipate, although victims may be able to improve with rehabilitation and other treatments. Serious brain injuries can have a range of intense symptoms depending on the extent of the damage.

  • Loss of consciousness for longer than 30 minutes
  • Coma
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Problems reading or writing
  • Lost or diminished senses
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Chronic pain
  • Behavioral changes
  • Clear fluid leaking from nose or ears
  • Brain death

Serious brain injuries need immediate emergency medical attention. Surgical intervention may be necessary to help relieve pressure on the brain. Sadly, serious brain injuries often cause permanent cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as death. Every injury to the brain is serious, but severe damage can be irreversible.