According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the effects of a traumatic brain injury vary significantly based on the severity of the injury. For instance, individuals who sustain mild TBIs generally develop few to no noticeable symptoms and can return to life as normal within a couple of weeks. Individuals who sustain moderate to severe TBIs, on the other hand, may live with long-term or life-long consequences from the injury.

A severe TBI has a serious negative impact on the victim, the victim’s family and society. The lifetime economic cost of TBIs in the United States is $76.5 billion in 2010 dollars.

Potential effects of severe TBI

Individuals who sustain a severe TBI are likely to live with lasting effects from the injury. The effects can be short- and long-term and may include decreased cognitive function, such as impaired memory and attention span; impaired motor function, such as reduced coordination and extremity weakness; decreased sensory function, such as hearing and vision problems; and behavioral issues, such as depression, emotional regulation, aggression, anxiety and behavioral control.

Potential outcomes of severe TBI

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Glasgow Outcome Scale is the most widely used system to classify the outcomes for brain injuries. Patients with mild head injuries tend to fair the best, and may only experience short-term dizziness, headaches, irritability and other symptoms.

Only approximately 60% of individuals who develop moderate head injuries make a positive recovery. An estimated 25% will live the remainder of their lives with a mild degree of disability. Persistent vegetative state and death are the outcome in 7% to 10% of these cases, while the remainder will live with a severe degree of disability.

Individuals who sustain severe TBIs have the worst outcomes, with only 25% to 33% having positive outcomes. Approximately one-sixth of patients will live with moderate and severe disability, while 33% do not survive. The remaining few remain in a persistently vegetative state.