Headache is one of the most common symptoms after a traumatic brain injury, occurring in up to 90% of people. Headaches can make it more difficult for you to carry out your daily activities or to think and remember things, impacting on your quality of life. Most people with post-traumatic headaches improve within days or a few weeks, whilst others may take up to three months to recover. Occasionally, headaches can last longer and are referred to as “persistent” but this does not mean that they will never get better.

More information can be found in this Headway factsheet and in the Northumberland Head Injuries headaches after traumatic brain injury patient information leaflet


Following a brain injury people often experience fatigue or a lack of energy. This can feel different for everyone. For some it may feel like overwhelming tiredness, weakness, exhaustion, or sleepiness. It can often make completing everyday activities very difficult. Because it can’t be seen like a physical difficulty, it can be hard to understand. More information can be found on this page on the Headway website


People with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to have problems with their sleep compared to the general population. This leaflet explains the changes to sleep after a TBI and what can be done to improve it.


Dizziness after a traumatic brain injury is really common. Up to 80% of people will suffer some form of dizziness during their recovery. Some may experience vertigo, like the world is spinning, whilst others may have problems with eye movements or lose their sense of balance. Most of the time, dizziness will fade on its own however some people may require input from a specialist physiotherapist.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common disorder of the balance system following a head injury. This factsheet provides information on how it occurs and how it can be treated.

Taste and smell

Loss or changes to smell and taste are particularly common after severe brain injury and can be a result of damage to the brain itself. The effects are also often reported after minor head injuries and recovery in these cases is more common. If recovery does occur, it is usually within a few months of the injury and recovery after more than two years is rare.
Further information can be found in this Headway factsheet

Fifth Sense

Fifth Sense is the first charity in the UK supporting smell and taste disorder sufferers, providing a signpost to potential diagnosis and treatment, and playing a leading role in educating society on the huge role that the sense of smell plays in our lives. Email: [email protected]

Changes in how you communicate

Some people will experience communication problems after brain injury, depending on the areas of the brain affected and the severity of the injury. It is also important to recognise that such problems may occur alongside other changes in physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural functions. More information can be found on this page on the Headway website

Changes in memory and thinking skills

After a TBI it is common to experience changes in cognition (including your thinking skills, memory, attention or problem-solving abilities). You may notice some of these difficulties improve in the months following injury. Our service can assess your difficulties and help you to develop ways to cope with any ongoing difficulties. More information can be found on this page on the Headway website


A person’s tolerance to alcohol reduces after a brain injury. People are often unable to drink alcohol in the same way as they did before their injury and are often unsure of how much alcohol they can safely drink, or indeed, if they can drink alcohol at all. This Headway factsheet explains how alcohol affects the brain after brain injury and offers tips for reducing alcohol consumption. Sources of further information and support are given at the end.