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4 Types of Brain Injuries and 3 Levels of Severity

Brain injuries take many different forms, depending on how it happens and how the injury affects the brain. For example, a blast injury from an explosion produces different effects when compared to a whiplash injury.

Here is a short guide to the four types of brain injuries and how doctors rate their severity.

Causes of Brain Injuries

The brain has two layers of protection against head trauma. The skull protects the brain from impacts to the head, and a layer of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cushions the brain inside the skull. In minor accidents, the skull and CSF work together to prevent brain injuries.

Severe accidents can overwhelm these protections and injure the brain. Some of the types of trauma that can injure the brain during an accident include:

Blunt Force Trauma

Blunt force trauma occurs when the head collides with an object that does not penetrate the skull. Car accidents can cause blunt force trauma when the head strikes the doorpost, side window, steering wheel, or dashboard. Falls can cause blunt force trauma when the head strikes the ground.

Penetrating Trauma

Penetrating trauma happens when an object penetrates the brain. The object could come from outside or inside the body. A piece of rebar could penetrate the brain in a workplace accident. Or a skull fracture could cause bone fragments to penetrate the brain.

Anoxic Trauma

Anoxic trauma happens when something deprives the brain of oxygen. Severe bleeding, drowning, suffocation, toxic substances and drugs, choking, and medical malpractice can deprive the brain of oxygen.

Types of Brain Injuries

Some of the common brain injuries that arise from head trauma include:

Concussion

Concussions occur when the brain sloshes in the CSF. A pressure wave builds as the brain moves. The pressure damages brain cells and ruptures small blood vessels in the brain. This brain damage leads to inflammation and swelling that can produce symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Blurry vision or seeing stars
  • Tinnitus
  • Loss of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech

Most concussion symptoms go away after a couple of months.

Contusion and Diffuse Axonal Injury

Contusions happen when the brain moves so violently that the CSF cannot cushion it. The brain hits the inside of the skull. The impact bruises the brain. The bleeding at the bruise site can deprive brain cells of oxygen, leading to cell death. Severe bleeding can increase the pressure on the brain and lead to coma or death.

Diffuse axonal injuries (DAIs) can also result from violent brain motion. When the brain sloshes back and forth, neurons in the brain called “axons” tear apart. These neurons carry signals throughout the brain. 

When they tear, some of the brain signals never reach their destination. DAIs can happen when you whip back and forth in a car accident.

Penetrating Injury

When an object penetrates the brain, neurons and blood vessels will tear. This will lead to bleeding and brain cell death. Pressure can also build inside the skull, squeezing the brain and shutting down circulation. Blood clots can form, leading to a stroke.

Hypoxic Injury

Hypoxic injuries happen when trauma deprives the brain of oxygen. When it is starved of oxygen, the brain can survive about four minutes before the victim experiences permanent brain damage or death.

Rating the Severity of Brain Injuries

Neurologists use many scales for rating the severity of brain injuries. Under the Glasgow Coma Scale, any brain injury causing unconsciousness is severe. Severe brain injuries also prevent the patient from answering questions or moving their body in response to commands.

A moderate brain injury does not result in unconsciousness but might prevent the patient from opening their eyes except in response to physical stimulation like a pinprick. A moderate brain injury might also produce confused or incoherent answers to questions and cause clumsy or uncoordinated physical movements.

After a mild brain injury, the patient will open their eyes spontaneously. They can answer questions coherently and move their bodies on command.

Contact a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer for Help After Your Injury

If your brain injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you should contact a Miami personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will explain your legal options for pursuing compensation from the at-fault party, whether through a claim or lawsuit.

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