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What is an acute or severe brain injury?

Home > FAQ > What is an acute or severe brain injury?

Acute brain injury is another term for severe brain injury.  The medical definition is a brain injury that results in loss of consciousness for 6 hours or more and rates a score of 3 to 8 on the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Glasgow Coma Scale

This is a system used by physicians and other medical personnel to diagnose and assess the symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  It is a 15 point scale that measures motor responses (muscular movement), verbal responses (speech, sounds) and eye movement.


  • 13 – 15 – Mild disability
  • 9 – 12 – Moderate disability
  • 3 – 8 – Severe disability, reflecting a coma (unconscious state) where there are no meaningful responses or voluntary activities.
  • 0 – 2 – Vegetative state

It is estimated that over 5 million Americans currently live with a TBI disability.

Severe TBIs effect:

  • Attention and memory
  • Extremity (arms and legs) strength
  • Coordination and balance
  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Perception
  • Speech
  • Touch
  • Emotions – depression, anxiety, mood swings
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