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Managing a traumatic brain injury

The brain is an intricate and amazing organ, and any damage can have life-changing implications for the person and their loved ones.

When a person sustains a brain injury, there are a wide range of symptoms that they might experience, which can affect various aspects of their day-to-day lives. Because every brain injury is different, it’s hard to know exactly what each person is going through, and everyone will experience it differently.

That’s why we’ve put together this detailed resource to help you understand more about how to manage a brain injury.

Managing Brain Injury

A brain injury is damage that causes the destruction or deterioration of brain cells. Brain injuries can lead to a wide variety of symptoms and effects, and each case is unique. While every injury is different, there are two main types of brain injury: traumatic brain injury (TBI) and acquired brain injury (ABI).

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBI is caused by an external force, such as a violent blow, jolt to the head, or an object that penetrates the brain tissue (like a shattered piece of skull). These injuries disrupt the brain’s function and can vary from ‘mild’ to ‘severe’ resulting in both short and long-term symptoms.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

ABI is brain damage caused by an event of some kind happening any time after birth, which is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative. This type of injury is usually associated with medical conditions including stokes, drug overdose and brain tumours.

What are the common symptoms of a brain injury?

Brain injury symptoms vary depending on the part of the brain that has been damaged. This means each injury is unique, but there are various common symptoms many people experience:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Feeling dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Headaches and chronic pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Anger and irritability
  • Sensitivity to light or sounds
  • Visual problems
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Trouble with memory and concentration
  • Impaired insight and empathy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Fatigue and tiredness

Diagnosing brain injuries

Sometimes, a brain injury can be classified as ‘mild’ where no sign of damage can be detected on a scan, despite there being a head injury. CT scans will not always detect a brain injury and therefore these types of injuries can often be missed or misdiagnosed.

It is expected that the majority of those who sustain a mild brain injury will recover quickly. For some, they will continue to experience symptoms and this can feel anything but mild. It is important that you or your loved one’s symptoms are monitored and assessed by a specialist to help with a diagnosis and treatment plan if needed.

For more helpful information on what to do after a family member has sustained a head injury, download our guide here >

Diagnosing minor head injuries

Many people who continue to experience ongoing symptoms after being advised they have a mild head injury can have difficulty in accessing the correct treatment and support. We can help you access the specialist medical advice and support that you and your family need.

We understand that CT scans are not always a reliable test of whether or not a person has sustained a brain injury. If you have a clear scan but have not recovered quickly then we would recommend that you seek specialist advice.

If you have been involved in an accident which has resulted in a head injury, you should speak to a reputable solicitor with specialist expertise in this area.

For more helpful information on what to do after a family member has sustained a head injury, download our guide here >


Living with a brain injury

A brain injury can have a lasting impact on a person's life. While it can be difficult to adapt to the changes, with the right support, brain injured people can live happy and fulfilled lives. We have a range of blogs from our two expert guest bloggers as part of our community - Brooke Trotter and Michelle Munt - who are both brain injury survivors. Find out more about their experiences below:

Brooke Trotter

Brook Trotter - Brain Injury Brooke

Brooke was involved in a road traffic collision in May 2007, which left him with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Now he’s sharing his story to help raise awareness of TBI and help others going through similar experiences. Brooke is part of our community and provides useful guidance and advice on our blog for people living with a brain injury. 

Read more about Brooke’s experiences: 

Michelle Munt


In 2014, Michelle was involved in a serious road traffic collision when her car was hit by a truck, which left her with a severe brain injury. After her experiences, Michelle decided to help others by sharing useful tips and advice on her website Her real-life stories about the struggles she has faced have offered inspiration to many.

Read more about Michelle’s experiences: 

Severity of brain injuries

Traumatic Brain Injuries are usually classified in three different categories: mild, moderate and severe. While these categories are not an exact science (as people recover differently), they can help to provide guidance on what to expect.

The severity of a brain injury can often be indicated by the length of time a person is unconscious after sustaining the injury. Medical professionals will also use a metric called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to help their diagnosis. The GCS scores the injury over three areas and adds them together to assess how severe the injury is. These areas are eye opening, verbal response and motor response.

Usually, these classifications are used immediately after someone has sustained a head injury. Although they help doctors assess how serious the injury is at the beginning, these classifications do not always indicate the long-term outcomes of the injured person.

Someone who is initially diagnosed as having a mild brain injury can sometimes go on to experience complex long-term symptoms and problems, while a person who is classified as severe can go on to make a complete recovery. Each brain injury is different, so a person’s recovery will depend on what parts of the brain have been injured and the extent of these injuries.


Criteria Mild Moderate Severe
Glasgow coma scale 13-15 9-12 <8
Loss of consciousness 0-30 min 30 min to 24h More than 24h
Post-traumatic amnesia Less than 24h or none More than 24h less than 1 week More than 1 week
Alteration of consciousness / mental state A moment up to 24h >24h, severity based on other criteria >24h, severity based on other criteria


A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is often classified as mild if a person is unconscious, confused or disoriented for 30 minutes or less. Concussion is one of the most common head injuries and is often categorised as ‘mild’. Despite this, a concussion should never be underestimated. Often, an MRI or CAT scan doesn’t show the full damage to the brain caused by a concussion, with many of these injuries turning out to be more complicated than first thought. This can lead to devastating outcomes for the injured person and their family if left untreated. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to closely monitor any head injury.

Read the guide


A moderate brain injury is defined as a loss of consciousness for 20 minutes to 6 hours, and a score of 9-12 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. For most people, the symptoms of a moderate brain injury will gradually improve, although this can take 6-9 months. The impact of a moderate brain injury depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the initial injury, how quickly medical intervention took place, the functions affected by the injury and the patient’s physiological recovery. The resources available to help with recovery can also have an impact too.


A brain injury is classed as ‘severe’ when the person loses consciousness for more than 6 hours. This appears on the Glasgow Coma Scale somewhere between 3 and 8. Patients who have been diagnosed with a severe brain injury are likely to be hospitalised and will need rehabilitation. Common symptoms of severe head injuries include: fits or seizures, difficulty speaking, problems with senses, difficulty with walking and memory loss.

Most common accidents leading to a brain injury

There are a number of accidents that can lead to traumatic brain injuries, and they vary by age and occupation.  Here are some of the most common accidents:

Slips, trips and falls

Trips, slips and falls are the most frequent reasons for personal injury in the UK, and the leading cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (47%). Unfortunately, some slips and falls can cause serious, life changing injuries - from broken bones to more serious head, brain or spinal injuries.

Sports accidents

Sports and other recreational activities are particularly common amongst children and adolescents, making up around 21% of Traumatic Brain Injuries in this age group. According to incident reports, water sports, cycling, baseball and basketball lead to the highest number of severe injuries.

Road traffic collisions

According to a survey by BrainLine, 14% of Traumatic Brain Injuries are caused by traffic collisions, with research suggesting that the most severe injuries happen to pedestrians. Cyclists are also at risk, as well as motorcyclists, who are often involved in serious road traffic collisions.

Workplace accidents

All employers have a duty of care to ensure that working environments are safe and appropriate for their employees. Unfortunately, accidents do still happen in the workplace. The most common injuries are caused by lifting, handling manual equipment, and faulty or dangerous machinery.

Violent crimes and assaults

Brain injuries can also occur as a result of a violent crime or assault. If you, or your family member, have sustained a brain injury from a violent crime, you may be able to claim compensation through the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (CICA)


What to do following a head or a brain injury

Although brain injuries are common, diagnosing them can be complicated. Problems often arise during the first 24 to 48 hours after a head or brain injury, so it’s important to monitor anyone suspected of having a head injury for worsening symptoms.

If a brain injury goes untreated, it can have serious, long-term consequences. Anyone who experiences an impact to the head and develops any symptoms associated with Traumatic Brain Injury should seek medical attention, even if the symptoms appear mild.

Research suggests that early rehabilitation is crucial to recovery. After a person has sustained a brain injury, it’s vital to have an in-depth individual plan to achieve the best possible outcome for the person and their family.

We help our clients ensure they have early access to the treatment and rehabilitation they need to achieve their best possible outcome and lead a fulfilled life.  Find out how we helped one of our clients, Mr. G, get the lifelong care and rehabilitation he needed after being struck by a car.

See how we helped >

Common challenges following a brain injury

Every brain injury is different, and we understand that each one comes with a unique set of challenges for you and your family. Some of the most common concerns our clients experience following a brain injury include:

Financial difficulties

Unfortunately, brain injuries can lead to unexpected financial strains for your whole family.  We know this is a real concern for many people, which is why we put together a helpful guide to solving immediate money concerns following a brain injury.

At CFG Law we can provide immediate support to help you in this difficult time. We help our clients with hospital travel expenses, advice on bills, and finding emergency funding and debt charities.

We always try to obtain early compensation payments to help you with any ongoing financial pressures, as well as claiming for the losses and expenses you’ve had to pay so far. We will also help you prepare for the future, by assisting with increased living costs, loss of earnings, specialist holidays, ongoing care needs, technology requirements and any other services you might need.  

We also have an emergency fund for those who need it most, which can help you pay for rehabilitation, care needs, therapy and more.

Speak to one of our solicitors to find out whether you’re eligible >

More essential reading: 

Medical support

Early intervention is key to making the most successful recovery possible after a brain injury - no matter how severe it is. CFG Law offers support both in hospital and after discharge home, and work with the clinical team to understand and access the best possible care for you or your loved one. We can also help with funding for ongoing treatment and recovery.

We speak to the relevant insurers as soon as possible, so we can get access to funding for early and comprehensive rehabilitation under the Serious Injury Guide.  This can include: Neuropsychology, Physiotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) and Vocational Support.

We also employ Client Support Managers, who are trained healthcare professionals, to provide support, advice, health and social care coordination to you or your loved one. Our Client Support Managers will also help communicate with charities, local authorities, and treatment teams to make sure you or your family member gets all the support they need.

More essential reading: 

Care needs

Everybody has different needs after a brain injury, which is why we take the time to identify the most suitable care for you or your family member. Our Client Support Managers will work closely with you and your family to ensure that you get the best care package and funding for your recovery. This can cover both short and long-term care. If you are caring for someone with a brain injury at home, we can also help with cover for sickness and holiday provision, as well as providing access to much-needed emotional support and respite.

More essential reading: 

Emotional support

Our team at CFG Law are compassionate and understanding. From day one, our priority is to support you and your family and guide you through this difficult time. Serious injuries of any kind can feel isolating, but you’re not alone. We will help to provide any emotional support we can to the injured person as well as family and carers, including helping to arrange counselling and therapy to cope with low mood, depression and anxiety.

More essential reading: 


How much is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)? plus symbol minus symbol

If you are off work with a long-term illness, or have been involved in an accident that has left you with a brain injury, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). When claiming SSP, you are entitled to up to £92.05 per week. SSP is paid to you directly by your employer in the same way as your wages. Read the blog to find out more

What is a concussion and how long does it take to recover? plus symbol minus symbol

A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, is a temporary injury to the brain caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. In most cases, symptoms occur within the first 7-10 days and go away within three months. However, sometimes they can persist for a year or more. Read the blog to find out more

How to manage fatigue after a brain injury plus symbol minus symbol

There are several ways to reduce the impact fatigue can have on your life, including pacing yourself, getting plenty of rest, and exercising (make sure you don’t push yourself too hard). Read the blog to find out more

What is the cost of home care following a brain injury? plus symbol minus symbol

Care companies tend to charge per hour, which could range between £13.45 (usually companies that social services will commission) and £30 per hour (for more privately-based companies).

Are there emergency funds to help while in hospital following a brain injury? plus symbol minus symbol

While generally there aren’t emergency funds readily available through government schemes, there are some local authority schemes, which vary from county to county. There is also a number of different charities and advice bureaus that support those struggling financially when someone is in hospital. Read the blog to find out more

Useful organisations to know about

There are a number of fantastic charities and groups in the UK who can provide tailored information and specialist support around brain injury, including:

BIGBrain Injury is BIG

A registered charity for carers of people with severe brain injuries, which includes an online discussion forum and telephone helpline.

TDTBrain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT)

A division of The Disabilities Trust, BIRT is a charity that provides services to people with physical and learning disabilities, autism and brain injury.

Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) >

BIHBrain injury Hub

An online support centre for the families of children affected by acquired brain injury created by The Children’s Trust.

Brain Injury Hub >

BSFBrain & Spine Foundation

Provides a free helpline staffed by neuroscience nurses to answer questions about all neurological conditions and offer information and support on any medical or related social and emotional issues.

Brain & Spine Foundation >

TCTThe Children’s Trust

A national charity that provides care, education, therapy and rehabilitation to children with acquired brain injury.


The Children’s Trust >


A national charity that promotes understanding of all aspects of brain injury and provides information, support and services to brain injured people, their families and carers. Headway also operates a regional network of branches and support groups.

Headway >


The United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF) is a membership organisation and charity which aims to promote the understanding of all aspects of acquired brain injury.


Free Help and Advice

We have a range of informative content from our expert solicitors and healthcare professionals, as well as real-life practical advice from people who have been through serious injuries themselves.

View all resources

When your world is turned upside down after a catastrophic or serious injury, see how CFG Law can help you get your life back on track and enable you to achieve your best outcome and lead a fulfilled life.

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