Photo: Long-Term Effects

Long-Term Effects

Traumatic brain injury is not an event, but rather a disease process triggered by injury to the brain.2 The course and duration of recovery process depends on a complex interaction of different factors unique to each person. While TBI can be a chronic condition requiring ongoing care and/or supervision,2 a history of TBI does not mean that there are lasting effects.

The long-term impact of brain injury depends on several factors that are unique to each person, such as: how severe the injury is, what caused the injury, and what part of the brain or neck was affected. Gender, age, race, income, education level, disability, and previous mental health or substance use concerns also shape a survivor’s long-term experience.

Factors that Influence Recovery from TBI

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation1 categorizes factors that affect recovery after a concussion/mild traumatic brain injury into two groups: medical and contextual. The bolded factors listed below are those of particular relevance to mild traumatic brain injury/concussion recovery in women survivors of IPV. Note that several of the listed risk factors are applicable to this group of women, which has implications for their health and well being after injury to the brain.


  • Previous traumatic brain injury
  • Previous physical limitations
  • Previous neurological/psychiatric problems
  • Skull fracture
  • Pain, especially headache, within 24 hrs of injury
  • Chronic pain
  • Other confounding health-related issues (e.g., pain medications, other injury, emotional distress)
  • Anxiety
  • High number of symptoms on self-report questionnaires, including:
  • Vision problems
  • Pre-injury sleep disturbance/post-injury changes in sleep
  • Poor balance/dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Memory problems
  • Post traumatic amnesia


  • Traumatic brain injury due to motor vehicle accident
  • Not returning to work post injury/delayed return
  • Being a student
  • Life stressors at time of injury
  • Older age
  • Lack of social supports
  • Lower education/socioeconomic status
  • Female gender
  • Lower resilience
  • Returning to contact sport


1Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, “Guideline for Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury & Persistent Symptoms, 3rd Edition, For Adults Over 18 Years of Age,” 2018 [Online]. Available:

2B. Masel and D. DeWitt, “Traumatic Brain Injury: A Disease Process, Not an Event,” J. Neurotrauma, vol. 27, pp. 1529–1540, 2010.

Glossary References

1Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, “Acquired Brain Injury,” Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. [Online]. Available:

2Concussion Legacy Foundation, “What is CTE?” [Online]. Available:

3HealthLink BC, “Concussion,” HealthLink BC, 2017. [Online]. Available:

4American Association of Neurological Surgeons, “Concussion,” AANS, 2019. [Online]. Available:

5Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, “Guideline for Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury & Persistent Symptoms, 3rd Edition, For Adults Over 18 Years of Age,” 2018. [Online]. Available:

6Headway: The Brain Injury Association and S. White, “Factsheet: Hypoxic Brain Injury,” Headway: The Brain Injury, 2018. [Online]. Available:

7P. H. Niolon, M. Kearns, J. Dills, K. Rambo, S. Irving, T. L. Armstead, and L. Gilbert, “Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies, and Practices,” Atlanta, GA, 2017.

8Brain & Spine Foundation, “What is a neurological problem?” [Online]. Available:

9Nature, “Psychiatric disorders,” 2018. [Online]. Available:

10D. K. Menon, K. Schwab, D. W. Wright, A. I. Maas, Demographics, I. Clinical Assessment Working Group of the, I. Interagency Initiative toward Common Data Elements for Research on Traumatic Brain, and H. Psychological, “Position statement: definition of traumatic brain injury,” Arch Phys Med Rehabil, vol. 91, no. 11, pp. 1637–1640, 2010.