What Qualifies as Brain Injury? – Credihealth Blog


Two terms are frequently used when discussing brain injuries – Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI.) This article will explain what these terms mean and what qualifies as a brain injury.

Brain Injury Statistics

According to the Brain Injury Association, Headway, between 2019 and 2020 there were 356,699 admissions with a brain injury to a UK hospital, which is an increase of 12% compared to previous years’ data.

The Centre For Mental Health reports that traumatic brain injury puts young people at a significantly higher risk of poor mental health and offending behaviour. Their research found that traumatic brain injury doubled a young person’s risk of mental illness, increased their likelihood of premature death and in some cases, increased their likelihood of offending by as much as 50%. It is also estimated that brain injury costs the nation around £15 billion annually.

Brain injuries have a significant impact on a person’s life, as well as affecting the lives of those around them, such as family, friends and loved ones. People who suffer an acquired or traumatic brain injury can suffer lasting effects in both the short and long term.

Depending on the severity and type of brain injury, a person may experience symptoms such as headaches and memory loss or mood and behavioural changes. Some people may require a lengthy period of rehabilitation and others will be left with permanent effects and disabilities. Where appropriate, brain injury claims can help people to access treatment and rehabilitation and make adaptations to their homes and lives to aid their recovery.

Different types of brain injury

There are different types of brain injury with a range of possible causes.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by head trauma. Common causes of TBI, include:

  • Road traffic accidents (RTAs)
  • Falls
  • Physical assault
  • Accidents at home or work
  • Sporting injuries
  • Concussion

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

This is any brain injury that has occurred since birth. It includes traumatic brain injury as well as other types of brain injury. Aside from traumatic brain injury, common causes of ABI include:

  • A stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Haemorrhage (bleeding on the brain)
  • Tumour
  • Encephalitis (inflammation)
  • Hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Hypoxic brain injury (lack of oxygen)
  • Meningitis


Traumatic brain injury can be classified in several ways, including clinical severity. Clinicians will often use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)  to classify brain injuries by severity, with a lower GCS score indicating a more severe brain injury.

  • A GCS score of less than 9 = severe TBI
  • A GCS score of between 9 and 12 = moderate TBI
  • A GCS score of between 13 and 15 = mild TBI

However, there is debate about the inclusion of those with a GCS score of 13 in the mild category as evidence suggests poorer outcomes for these patients, meaning that many clinicians will classify a patient with a GCS of 13 as having a moderate brain injury instead.

Alternatively, the Mayo classification system is based on an individual’s clinical and CT results and uses the terms ‘definite’ (for moderate-severe TBI), ‘probable’ (for a mild TBI) and ‘possible’ (for symptomatic brain injuries.)

The more severe a person’s brain injury classification, the poorer their prognosis and the higher the chance of negative outcomes.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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