Brain Injury Symptoms – Understanding the Symptomatology

Brain Injury Symptoms – Identifying Areas of Need

By Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Call me at 800-992-9447

Brain injury symptoms can be hard to explain and sometimes hard to detect.  If your loved one has suffered from traumatic brain injury some of the symptoms may be very evident yet hard to understand.  They may seem as is they aren’t the person they were before the catastrophic accident.  Other symptoms may be vague and at first go undetected.

We have provided a list below of the most common symptoms and to explain them we will go to our TBI Voices project to give examples of real life survivors of brain injury.  Some you will hear in their own words and others may be explained by their caregivers. While listening to the words of the survivor or the caregivers it may become clearer to you that are dealing with brain injury for yourself or your loved ones.  You will find out that you are not alone and learn how they are dealing with their brain injury symptoms.  What better way to learn than from the voice of the survivor.

This section is devoted to dealing with the major symptoms for those who survive a severe brain injury. Elsewhere, we have discussed some of the more significant aspects of symtomatology of mild traumatic brain injury. Click here for our treatment of MTBI and the Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Classifying Brain Injury Symptoms by their Nature

At the bottom of this page is an alphabetical list of symptoms, but the organization of this page, the “next button” sequence, will be classifying  symptoms by their nature.  Throughout our symptom treatment, we have tried to give examples of how those symptoms have impacted real people, with references to findings of our research project, TBI Voices whenever possible.  Most of the brain injury survivors interviewed had a significant number of these symptoms, but in unique combinations. Those combinations were not just because different pathology within the injured brains, but also in unique personality traits of the survivor before the brain injury. For that reason, within TBI Voices, we always asked about who the survivor was before the injury. Our TBI Voices Project has a wealth of brain injury and survivor information on it.

For a comprehensive category by category index of the 600 parts of TBI Voices, click here.

Classifying Brain Injury Symptoms by When they Occur

It is also important to sort out symptoms in terms of when they occur. The primary symptoms that occur in the ICU, during the acute phase of the injury have already been discussed on our pages with respect to Brain Injury Care. For example, we have treated many speech deficits in our page on speech pathology.  Likewise, we have dealt with physical deficits, including spasticity on our pages on physical deficits after severe brain injury. That such topics don’t receive specific treatment in the pages that follow here, does not reflect mean that these symptoms won’t linger after discharge. They certainly may. It is our hope, however, that these profound symptoms have gotten the recognition and treatment before discharge so that you understand what you are dealing with on those issues before the brain injury survivor has returned home.

The symptoms that we will focus on next are those chronic or post acute symptoms that are most likely to impact a severe brain injury survivor in the months and years after discharge from treatment.  If the injury is particularly catastrophic, the acute stage symptoms will predominate much longer than with those who emerge from a coma within 30 days of injury.

We will start with neurobehavioral deficits, because it is those deficits which will cause the most disruption upon return home from treatment centers.  We have advocated from the beginning of our online advocacy that discharge from treatment must be delayed until the family of the survivor are safe from the worst of the neurobehavioral extremes. Yet, insurance and hospital administrators dictate those discharge decisions, regardless of whether the time is right. We thus believe it is essential that the family and the survivor be prepared for what can happen.

Next Neurobehavioral Deficits


There may be other brain injury symptoms that are not listed here.  If you have any questions about symptoms or deficits that you think may be caused by traumatic brain injury we are here to help.  You can contact Gordon Johnson by Clicking Here. has been a major undertaking since I first published the first of these pages in September of 2013. Up through October 10 it was still such a work in progress that we did not try to attract users to it who didn’t find it on their own. However, recognizing that it will always be a work in progress as I learn more, find new ways to teach the lessons of brain injury, I have felt that now is the time to encourage people to come look. Thus, while I am still writing important things about brain injury symptoms, I hope that you will benefit from what we have written so far.
Attorney Gordon Johnson

To Return to the Main Brain Injury Help Page Click Here

Click on each symptom for an explanation:




Balance and Dizziness




Impolitic Speech



Mood Issues

Neurobehavioral Extremes



Processing Speed and Multi-Attending


Staying on Topic

Time and Management


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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