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What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

The brain is the body’s control center as well as the bank of memories and thoughts that make us who we are. Unfortunately, it’s also a complex and sensitive mass of tissue that’s vulnerable to injury in a trauma despite the protection of a bony outer skull and a cushioning inner layer of fluid. When the head suffers a forceful blow from an impact or sustains a violent jarring or shaking, the delicate tissue inside the brain sometimes becomes injured from bumping or twisting. An injury from the brain caused by the brain bumping against the skull or twisting and tearing inside the skull causes bleeding, bruising, and inflammation which results in damage—a traumatic brain injury. While the brain also suffers injuries from medical conditions like a stroke or aneurysm, a traumatic brain injury refers to damage from an outside trauma.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

When a blow or jolt is powerful enough to cause movement of the brain within the skull an injury can occur with damage that may be temporary or permanent depending on the severity of the trauma. The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries include the following:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Falls
  • Contact sports injuries
  • Workplace injuries
  • Acts of violence
  • Gunshots
  • Explosions

When a brain injury occurs, the victim needs immediate medical attention to minimize the damage. Stabilizing the injury victim and reducing bleeding and swelling helps to prevent more widespread damage, but the outcome for the patient depends on the location of the injury, the severity of the damage to the brain, and how well the victim responds to both immediate treatment and long-term rehabilitation and therapy.

What Are the Most Common Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Brain injuries may be closed or open, depending on the type of trauma that caused the injury.


The most common traumatic brain injury is a concussion. Most concussion victims fully recover with care and rest, but repeated concussions may cause later complications including a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s disease.


Contusions are bruises on the surface of the brain, resulting in localized damage that may be temporary or permanent.


A coup-contrecoup brain injury occurs when a strong jolt causes the brain to bump back and forth so it suffers an injury in one location and then another injury on the opposite side.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

A diffuse axonal injury is a severe brain injury that occurs when the brain twists and rotates inside the skull resulting in the shearing of the axons connecting nerve fibers (axons) in multiple parts of the brain.

Signs and Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Depending on the severity of the injury, a traumatic brain injury victim may lose consciousness for a moment or longer, or they may not lose consciousness at all but have temporary confusion immediately after the injury. Severe injuries can cause loss of consciousness or coma. Signs and symptoms of a brain injury include:

  • Loss of consciousness, confusion, or loss of memory of the events leading up to the injury, agitation
  • Persistent headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of balance/coordination
  • Speech problems
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Seizures
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the extremities

Victims of severe traumatic brain injuries may have uneven pupils and/or clear fluid draining from the nose or ears.

It’s critical to receive emergency medical treatment for a traumatic brain injury and then ongoing care and rehabilitation to reach the maximum medical improvement possible. Then, contact a Van Nuys brain injury lawyer to learn about the compensation you may be entitled to.