General AIS FAQs

Should I update from AIS 2008 to AIS 2015?

User community feedback drove a significant number of the changes seen in AIS 2015.  The AIS dictionary has changed from landscape to portrait format and the amount of information for each line of AIS code was reduced to improve the ease of use for the coder.  Many areas that were reported to be confusing or difficult to code in AIS 2008 were addressed.  A significant number of injury descriptors were refined to better describe threat to life and impairment, and coding rules and guidelines were clarified or expanded to promote intercoder reliability.  Injury descriptors for combat injuries were also included.  Wherever possible any injury severity assignment changes were based upon available research evidence.

More specifically, the Head chapter includes a simplified method for coding diffuse axonal injury (DAI) as well as changes in coding other diffuse brain injuries. There is now a finer discrimination between loss of consciousness (LOC) and coma for patients with concussive type injuries.  In the Face chapter 36 eye injury descriptors were removed because the fine level of discrimination they provided was rarely available in the medical documentation for coders.  In the Abdomen chapter codes were added to more closely align with Organ Injury Scale (OIS) values developed by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma.  The Spine chapter was significantly revised in structure and in the level of injury specificity.  The American Spinal Cord Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment scale has been included in the descriptors as a guide to assist in coding spinal cord injury deficit.  The Extremity chapters have several new codes to preserve the capability of accurately coding injuries when less detail is available, as well as to better address closed degloving injuries and joint injuries.  Heat-related injuries are now included in the Other Trauma section.  This is not an exhaustive list of the changes but merely highlights some of the more important ones.

Perhaps one of the most significant improvements in AIS 2015 is the inclusion of comprehensive mapping between AIS 2008 and AIS 2015, making the merging or conversion of data from one version to the other simple, complete and universally standardized.

Where can I buy AIS products?

AAAM has developed the AIS printed and electronic manuals, which have been designed for coders and are available separately. These can be purchased via the AAAM online store.

What is AIS?

The Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) is an anatomy-based coding system created to classify and describe the severity of injuries. It represents an assessment of the severity of injury including the threat to life associated with the injury.  AIS is one of the most common anatomic scales for traumatic injuries.  AIS consists of a single coding dictionary.  The first version of the scale was published in 1969 with major revisions or updates in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1998, 2005, 2008, and 2015.

The AIS codes three aspects of injury: type, location and severity.   The AIS severity has a scale of 1 to 6, one being a minor injury and six being maximal.  An AIS severity of 6 is not the arbitrary code for a deceased patient or fatal injury, but is used only for specific injuries assigned an AIS 6 severity.  An AIS severity of 9 is used to describe injuries for which not enough information is available for more detailed coding, e.g. crush injury to the head.

The AIS scale is a measurement tool for single injuries.  A well accepted injury aggregation function is the Injury Severity Score (ISS).  It has several derivatives that have unique applications.  In other settings such as system design and occupant protection, maximum AIS (MAIS) is a useful tool for the comparison of specific injuries and their relative severity, and the changes in those frequencies that may result from evolving system design.

Does AAAM own the copyright to AIS?

AAAM is the copyright holder of AIS and can grant licenses for the use of AIS worldwide for commercial and non-commercial uses.  AAAM actively provides end-user licensing. All rights to AIS are reserved.  No part of AIS may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of AAAM, except in the case of brief quotations and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.

How can I translate AIS into my local language?

AIS 2008 is available in the four languages (English, Japanese, French and Spanish) in print. The latest version, AIS 2015, is only available in English.   For non-English versions or language requests, please contact AAAM US office in Chicago.

Licensing AIS codes for commercial use

AAAM is able to issue commercial licenses to companies wishing to incorporate and distribute AIS codes in their software products for sale to customers in specific countries.

  • The license is non-exclusive, non-transferable and time
  • The license authorizes the use of the codes and descriptions in a product that will be distributed to customers in specific
  • Licensees are not permitted to modify, translate or amend the codes or descriptions in any
  • There should be no suggestion of endorsement of the product or the company by

Companies wishing to obtain a commercial license are asked to complete the following license application <pdf> so that the proposed use of the AIS codes and the type of product are evaluated.

Licensing AIS codes for internal use within your organization

AAAM is able to issue internal licenses to organizations wishing to incorporate AIS codes into their internal information systems for use by employees for use for administrative purposes e.g. health records management.

Companies wishing to obtain an internal license are asked to provide the following information and send this to info@aaam.org

  • Name and address of
  • Email address and telephone number of the primary contact.
  • Name and job title of person signing the
  • Name of the organization’s information system in which AIS will be incorporated
  • A short summary of the intended use of AIS codes within your organization’s information systems. Please include a selection of screen shots from the product that illustrate how AIS codes are used in the This information will not be used by AAAM for any purpose other than compiling data on the use of AIS codes and shall not be transmitted outside of AAAM.

Number of concurrent users accessing AIS codes within the organization.

Are there any national modifications of AIS?

No modification of AIS is endorsed by AAAM; AAAM is not responsible for any external modification of the dictionary.  AAAM does not license the AIS dictionary for modification.