empowering the severely brain injured and their families via support, understanding and a network of care

Types of brain injury

There are two methods of classifying a brain injury:

i. How the injury is sustained
ii. The severity of the injury

How a brain injury falls into three main categories:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

This is an injury to the head or brain due to a form of external trauma. This may be the result of a fall, assault, or a car accident, for example. Damage to the brain occurs as the trauma causes the brain to move around inside the skull (or damages the skull itself).
The trauma may also cause something called a ‘secondary injury’. Examples of this are a change of pressure within the skull or a change in blood flow to the brain.

Acquired brain injury (ABI)

This is the term used to describe any brain injury that occurs after birth, this includes those that are traumatic brain injuries.
The most common cause of an ABI is from a build-up of pressure on the brain. Examples include a tumour or a neurological illness such as a stroke (a blood clot or bleed in the brain).

Congenital brain injury (CBI)

A congenital brain injury (CBI) is the term used to describe a brain injury that occurs while a baby is still in the womb. This may be due to disorders, genetic defects or as a result of something happening to the mother during pregnancy.

The severity of an injury is very dependent on its type and location and must be considered on a case-by-case basis by a medical professional. They will be categorised as minor, moderate, or severe.