Types of Brain Injuries

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Brain injuries include the following:


An injury that is caused by a sudden blow to the head or to the body. The blow shakes the brain inside the skull, which temporarily prevents the brain from functioning normally. Most people fully recover from concussions within a few hours to a few weeks. However, concussions can cause more serious problems. Repeated concussions, or a severe concussion, can cause long-term problems including: physical, such as headaches; cognitive, such as difficulty concentrating or remembering; and emotional or behavioral problems, such as irritability.

Post-concussion syndrome

Also known as PCS, this is a set of symptoms that may persist for weeks, months or occasionally up to a year or more after a concussion. Historically called shell shock, PCS is a complex disorder accompanied by a variety of symptoms that can include: headaches; dizziness; fatigue; irritability; anxiety; insomnia; loss of concentration and memory; and sensitivity to noise and light. The nature of PCS and the diagnosis itself have been the subject of considerable debate among health professionals.

Skull fracture

A break in the skull bone. There are four major types.

  1. A linear skull fracture is the most common. In a linear skull fracture, there is a break in the bone, but the bone does not move.
  2. A depressed skull fracture occurs when part of the skull is displaced inward. This type of fracture usually is caused by blunt force trauma, such as getting hit with a hammer or rock, or getting kicked in the head. Depressed skull fractures carry a high risk of increased pressure on the brain.
  3. A diastic skull fracture occurs along the suture lines in the skull. In this type of fracture, the normal suture lines are widened. Diastic skull fractures usually are seen in infants and young children because the sutures are not yet fused.
  4. A basilar skull fracture involves a break in the bone at the base of the skull. This type of fracture requires more force than the others and is the most serious. Patients with this type of fracture frequently have blood in the sinuses, a clear fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) draining from the nose or ears, bruises around the eyes, and a bruise behind the ears.

Intracranial hematoma (ICH)

ICH occurs when a blood vessel ruptures in or around the brain. A blood clot compresses brain tissue. The different types are classified by the location in the brain:

  • An epidural hematoma is a blood clot that forms underneath the skull, but on top of the dura mater, the tough, outermost membrane that surrounds the brain. Natasha Richardson, the actress that fell while taking a ski lesson at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, died from an epidural hematoma caused by a seemingly minor blunt impact to the head.
  • A subdural hematoma occurs when a blood clot forms beneath the skull and the dura, but outside of the brain.
  • A contusion or intracerebral hematoma is a bruise to the brain itself rather than the outside of it.

Closed head injury

An injury that occurs when the brain is damaged due to external mechanical force and the brain is not exposed. A penetrating, or open head injury, occurs when an object pierces the skull and breaches the dura mater, the outermost membrane that covers the brain.

Coup-Contrecoup Injury

This occurs when the head is moving and strikes a fixed object. A coup injury occurs at the site of impact, and a contrecoup injury occurs at the opposite site. Due to inertia, the brain is thought to bounce off the inside of the skull and hit the opposite side. Coup-contrecoup injuries also can be caused by acceleration or deceleration alone with no impact. These injuries are associated with cerebral contusion.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

One of the most common and devastating types of traumatic brain injury. Diffuse axonal injury is the result of shearing forces that occur when the head is rapidly accelerated or decelerated. Extensive lesions occur over a widespread area. The lesions disrupt axons, the neural processes that allow one neuron to communicate with another. Diffuse axonal injury can occur in every degree of severity from mild to moderate to severe. It is one of the major causes of unconsciousness and persistent vegetative state after head trauma.

Secondary Brain Injury

Brain damage that evolves over time after the trauma, and may include:

  • Bleeding inside the skull (intracranial hemorrhage).
  • Brain swelling (edema).
  • Increased pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure).
  • Brain damage associated with lack of oxygen.
  • Infection inside the skull, common with penetrating trauma.
  • Chemical changes leading to cell death.
  • Increased fluid inside the skull (hydrocephalus).

Rob Kline Can Represent Your Brain Injury Claim

Rob Kline Personal Injury Attorney

Brain injury claims are complex from both a legal and medical standpoint. The challenges associated with successfully pursuing such claims certainly do not preclude recovery. However, it is essential to retain the services of an experienced brain injury lawyer to maximize your chances of success.

If you have been injured, it is important to consult with a skilled Portland personal injury attorney to discuss your injuries and legal rights. Call today for a free, confidential evaluation.

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