Brain Injury Definitions

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). The majority of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI. (Centers for Disease Control-2014)

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth. (Brain Injury Association of America)


A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. Health care professionals may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life threatening. Even so, their effects can be very serious and can lead to future disabilities. (CDC-2014)

Is a Concussion a Brain Injury?

Yes, no matter how mild a bump or blow to the head may seem, a concussion is a brain injury!

  • Proper management of concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.
  • Ignoring the symptoms and trying to “tough it out” often makes symptoms worse.
  • Returning to full time academics or play too soon can result in prolonged recovery time or risk of further injury.
  • After one brain injury, the brain is more vulnerable and susceptible to injury. (CDC)

Proper concussion management can help avoid Second Impact Syndrome.  This occurs when a person suffers a second concussion before the brain recovers from the first concussion, usually within a short period of time (hours, days or weeks). (CDC)