Mild, Moderate and Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries Explained

Posted By: Tony Baratta | July 5th, 2020

I’m Tony Baratta. Today, I wanted to talk to you about how medical professionals describe the severity of a traumatic brain injury.


The severity of brain injuries

Medical professionals use three different categories: mild traumatic brain injury, moderate traumatic brain injury, and severe traumatic brain injury. And these characterizations or labels are based on the initial presentation of the brain injured person. It has absolutely nothing to do with the long term consequences of these brain injuries.

I have had clients who have suffered what had been categorized or labeled as severe traumatic brain injuries, who have fewer significant long-term problems than people who have been categorized as having mild traumatic brain injuries.


The labeling factors

The two things that go into determining the level or the labeling are loss of consciousness and post-traumatic amnesia. Loss of consciousness means that you’ve totally lost the awareness of yourself or your surroundings.

Post-traumatic amnesia means that you know who you are, you know where you are, but you have a loss of memory. Or when people tell you things, you can’t remember what they’re saying, or you are confused or disoriented.


A mild TBI

A mild traumatic brain injury is determined by a loss of consciousness of anything less than 15 minutes. Or if there was post-traumatic amnesia, it would have lasted for less than an hour. So if a person was knocked out for 14 minutes and then is confused and disoriented for another 45 minutes after that, it would be considered a mild traumatic brain injury.


Medium and severe

Loss of consciousness that lasts longer than 15 minutes but less than six hours, or post traumatic amnesia for a period of time from one hour to 24 hours, would be considered a moderate traumatic brain injury.

And any loss of consciousness for longer than six hours and post-traumatic amnesia that lasts longer than 24 hours would be categorized as a severe traumatic brain injury.


What you must realize

But again, it’s very important to realize that this is a labeling system for use by medical professionals solely to determine the initial presentation of the brain-injured person. It is not meant in any way to describe how severe the injury is in actuality or in the long term. It also doesn’t describe what effect this brain injury will have on this person’s life over their lifetime.

My name is Tony Baratta, and I hope this has been helpful to you.


About the Author

Anthony J. Baratta (Tony) is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 50 cases to Juries in State and Federal Courts and has litigated thousands of personal injury and medical malpractice cases in his 30-year career. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and an active board member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is also on the board for the Philadelphia VIP and performs pro bono work for the Laurel House, a non-profit for victims of domestic abuse. In addition, Tony is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys, voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers for the past 14 years, and a 2018 recipient of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Award for the Civil Trial Division.

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