One thing that makes brain injuries especially dangerous is that the accident causing the injury doesn’t have to be horrific or even dramatic. Sometimes the injuries don’t show up on common medical tests. That’s why you’ve got to be extremely vigilant after any head trauma for warning signs of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Accident injuries to the brain come in many forms. Let’s look at how some major ones are defined.
Location on the Brain and Time of Injury
Where on the brain and when an injury occurs are important, since it can impact the severity of the injury and its effect on you.
- Part of the brain affected. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), damage to a single area of the brain is called a focal injury. If the damage occurs over additional areas, it’s called a diffuse injury.
- When brain damage occurs. The measuring point is when the brain injury occurs. A primary injury means the damage is immediate. But other TBI-related damage can be secondary, meaning it occurs gradually, which could be hours, days, or even weeks later.
Immediate Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury
NINDS describes typical effects from accidental injuries to the brain. They range from worrisome to devastating. For the most frightening, immediate injuries, see the section on brain bleeds below.
- Concussion. This is a “mild” TBI, if there is such a thing. The effects are usually temporary, but it could still take months to heal. To give you an idea how “mild” it is, know that medical personnel consider the first 24 hours after a concussion to be vital because brain bleeds or excessive brain swelling are possible. Anyone diagnosed with a concussion needs to be watched like a hawk for those first 24 hours, to protect against severe brain damage or even death.
- Diffuse axonal injury (DAI). This common brain injury causes widespread damage to the brain’s white matter. “White matter” is made up of axons, which are nerve cell extensions carrying electrical impulses. The axons connect different areas of the brain to each other. When these axon bundles are stretched or torn by shearing forces, DAI results. It often happens in falls or car crashes from twisting or sudden deceleration. DAI causes your brain circuitry to break down and release damaging brain chemicals. The damage can be permanent, and recovery can require an extensive period, if it can even be achieved.
- Coup/contrecoup lesions. These include contusions, which are brain bruising or swelling from tiny blood vessels leaking into the brain. But it can be a larger bleed, as described below. A coup injury occurs directly under the impact site. A contrecoup injury occurs on the opposite side of the brain. These generally develop from sudden deceleration, bouncing the brain back and forth within the skull—as in a high speed car crash.
The Lethal Threat: Brain Bleeds
Brain bleeds are a fearsome medical diagnosis with a high mortality rate. A key indicator of the potential for a brain bleed is a skull fracture. The skull can penetrate delicate brain membranes, blood vessels, or the brain itself.
There are several types of brain bleed, and they’re all taken extremely seriously by health professionals and specialists like neurosurgeons. One scientific name is “hematoma.” Blood pools in the tissues after major blood vessels get damaged, causing severe bleeding in and around the brain. The primary types of hematomas are:
- Subdural hematoma. This refers to bleeding between the outer brain and the middle brain, which puts dangerous pressure on the outside of the brain.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage. Bleeding between the middle brain and the inner brain is considered to be subarachnoid.
- Intracerebral hematoma. This is bleeding into the brain itself, damaging the surrounding tissues.
- Epidural hematoma. Bleeding between the skull and the outer brain is extremely dangerous, often appearing with a skull fracture. Most frightening is that you might not know you have this for several hours, delaying vital medical treatment.
Brain Injuries Require the Utmost Medical and Legal Care
If you or someone you love suffered a brain injury, they need the highest possible medical care. I hope this blog and other info on our website can be a resource for you to help you understand your injuries.
If you got hurt at work or because someone else was careless, your case needs the utmost legal care. You’ve got vital legal rights that can impact you and your family’s financial future.
If you’ve got questions about your case, it won’t cost you a thing to get your questions answered by an experienced injury attorney. Call toll free 888-230-1841 to schedule a free strategy session in a friendly, no-pressure atmosphere.