Brain Injuries

Associate solicitor, Matthew Tuff in the Major Trauma team discusses the different types of brain injuries, typical symptoms and the importance of rehabilitation.

I am an associate solicitor in the Major Trauma Service department at Moore Barlow. I specialise in personal injury claims involving brain injury, as well as other serious injury cases. I have also been a trustee at the brain injury charity Headway for approximately ten years.

Today I am going to be talking to you about brain injuries, including different types of brain injuries, typical symptoms and the importance of rehabilitation. Each year about one million people visit A&E with head injury – although most of these cases are minor, some people are left with a significant brain injury.

There are many different types of brain injury – these can include skull fractures, they can include what’s called a hematoma in the brain (which is a collection of blood or clotting in the brain), one of the more serious types of brain injury is what’s called a diffuse axial injury.

Different parts of the brain have different density and weight, and when the body and brain are subject to rotational forces – for example in a high speed road accident – the different parts of the brain may move at a different speed, and this causes a shearing effect as one part of the brain moves across another and can lead to tissues in the brain called axons being torn which thus causes very serious damage.

Now talking about how the severity of a brain injury is assessed – there’s various criteria used. According to a commonly used system of classification, brain injuries can be broadly divided into mild injuries and moderate to severe injuries. A brain injury is considered moderate or severe as opposed to being mild if there is loss of consciousness of more than 30 minutes and post-traumatic amnesia of more than 24 hours. A post-traumatic amnesia is a state of confusion that can occur immediately after a traumatic brain injury, when the injured person is disorientated and unable to form continuous memories, so that for example they may not remember what happened the day before or even a few hours or minutes ago. Another criterion used to assess the brain injury is what’s called the Glasgow Coma Scale. This is a scoring system commonly used by doctors to determine the level of consciousness after a brain injury. It is scored out of 15 and if it is less than 12 at any point in the 24 hours after the accident, that’s a sign that the injury is moderate to severe.

There are many symptoms and each brain injury is different but common symptoms can include cognitive effects, such as poor short-term memory, difficulty with concentration and difficulty processing information. They can include fatigue, that’s partly because for a damaged brain it can take much more effort to do things that before the accident were considered relatively straightforward.

Behavioural effects of a brain injury can include short temper, behaving inappropriately in public (so for example of losing the filter and saying things that you wouldn’t have said about other people before the accident). There may be impulsive behaviour, there can be obsessiveness, relatives often describe the injured person as having a changed personality. A brain injury can also give rise to physical symptoms such, as in more severe cases, problems with mobility and balance. It can lead to slurred speech, vision problems, or sensitivity to light or noise. For any significant brain injury, early rehabilitation is vital, although improvement can continue to occur for up to five years or more. Many doctors advise that the best outcomes occur where treatment is provided in the first two years.

At Moore Barlow, we can to secure rehabilitation for clients at an early stage. This may include setting up a rehab package, so rehabilitation or treatments including neuropsychology, occupational therapy, neurophysiotherapy, and sometimes a support worker.

If you have any questions or want to know any more information please don’t hesitate to contact me on 020 8334 0313 or by email at