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What is the definition of a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

General definition

TBI refers to inadequate functioning of the brain following an injury that has resulted in a reduced level of consciousness in the brain-injured person (confusion, coma) [1].

Definition from the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ, the provincial car insurance plan)

“An injury causing the destruction or dysfunction of the intracranial nervous system” (Traumatic Brain Injury, p. 11) [2]

Definition provided by a brain-injured person

“Brain trauma is a head injury resulting from a violent blow. The aftereffects vary and trauma victims are not always aware of their predicament. Several aspects of the person’s daily life are affected: their level of energy, their relationships with others, etc.” (Émilie C. Lévesque [3], TBI at 17 years of age).

Definition provided by a loved one

“It’s a blow to the head, and no two are alike. They all have different aftereffects.” (Martin Matte, stand-up comic, excerpted from his performance My Brother.)

[1] Most of the content in this section has been excerpted from Lefebvre, H., D. Pelchat, I. Gélinas, and B. Swaine, “Expérience de la personne, de sa famille, des médecins et des professionnels lors de l’épisode de soins du traumatisme crânien suite à un accident de la route : des soins critiques à la réadaptation.” Research report, Montreal, University of Montreal, ÉRIFAM (an interdisciplinary team that conducts research on family interventions), 2002. 98 p.

[2] The SAAQ has very relevant information on TBIs. See the document Traumatic Brain Injury, p. 11, or the SAAQ’s Web site.

[3] Émilie C. Lévesque is the author of a novel, “La Danse de l’esquive,” published by les Éditions JCL, 2007.