Traumatic Brain Injury Classification

Brain Injury Classification

Traumatic brain injury results from biomechanical forces applied to the head and neck causing functional and or structural brain alteration resulting in transient or permanent damage.

Head injuries are divided to 3 categories depending on their severity:

  • Mild
  • Moderate 
  • Sever

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Moderate & Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury

Most head injuries are mild and can be evaluated safely in the urgent care setting. The following is a simple description outlining when head injury is called mild, moderate and severe.

Mild TBI or concussion

Normal or near normal neuro exam GCS 14 to 15

No loss of consciousness or very brief

Head CT is normal

Symptoms resolve usually in 7-10 days, sometimes longer and include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Imbalance
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Speech problem
  • Seizure
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Psychological difficulties
  • Sleep difficulties

Moderate TBI

Abnormal neurological exam
GCS score is 9 to 13
Loss of consciousness for 30 minutes to 24 hours
Abnormal Skull fracture, brain bleed bruising or swelling


Very abnormal neurological exam GCS Score is 3 to 8
Loss of consciousness for over 24 hours

Abnormal Skull fracture, brain bleed,bruising or swelling

When is head CT Scan indicated after head injury?

Head CT is indicated if you have any of the following:

  1. Serious mechanism of injury (head injury in a high speed car accident,slip and fall on tile or cement,..)
  2. Any of the following symptoms: Significant headache, vomiting, seizure, new numbness or weakness, blurred vision, drowsiness or short memory deficit
  3. Physical evidence of serious injury
  4. Age over 60
  5. Glasgow coma scale less than 15 (abnormal neuro exam)
  6. On drugs (narcotics ,prescription or street) or under alcohol influence
  7. Taking blood thinners


Most mild traumatic brain injury can be evaluated safely in the urgent care setting as long as the headache is mild, the mechanism of injury is minor, you do not have any neurological deficit, no vomiting, not taking blood thinners or narcotics and you are younger than 60 and older than 2

Mild traumatic brain injury  in Athletes

Criteria for mild traumatic brain injury is met

Immediate removal from play + assessment by health care professional trained in evaluating and managing concussions (Urgent Care may provide this service)

  • Evaluation of neurological function and balance
  • Evaluation of cognitive function
  • Rest both physical and cognitive is required for days to weeks
  • Return to play requires complete resolution of symptoms and normalization of cognition
  • The patient level of activity should be gradually increased without triggering any symptom (like headache) before he is allowed to return to full play

If you think  you have any of the symptoms above, Contact Medical Care One is an urgent care and Walk-in clinic in Ypsilanti

Visit Urgent Care Near You.  All Walkins are welcome and no Appointment  Necessary. Can’t make it to the urgent care?   Meet your doctor online with  Telemedicine.  Read about COVID-19 safety info.