Damage or destruction of brain tissue caused by a blow to the head is known to medical professionals as “Traumatic Brain Injury.” Although it can often be detected through MRI and CAT scans, symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may not develop until days or weeks after the initial injury. Oftentimes, these types of injury go untreated or are diagnosed as something else.
In a car accident, damage occurs to the brain when a blow to the head occurs that whips the head forward and back or from side to side, causing the brain to collide at high velocity with the skull in which it is housed. The brain tissue is then bruised and blood vessels are torn, particularly where the inside surface of the skull is rough and uneven.
Additionally, the rapid movement of the brain can stretch and injure neuronal axons. According to brainline.org, this interrupts functional communication within and between the brain regions and cannot be detected through currently available imaging technology. The only indication of damage is the effect it has on the individual’s functioning.
A common question many have when considering possible brain damage is, what are the different types of brain injuries caused by car accidents? There seem to be five main types of brain injuries caused by car accidents, which are included in this article:
A concussion is the most common brain injury in car accidents. There does not have to be an actual blow to the head to cause one, and outward symptoms are not always displayed immediately. Concussions are often considered a mild injury, however, they can lead to swelling that causes further injury to the brain or long-term problems.
Cerebral contusions are bruises on the brain. As any other bruise, they are tiny hemorrhages of lots of blood vessels all in the same area. This causes serious issues in the brain, including swelling and leaking of blood into the brain itself. This often requires surgery to remove and to protect the brain from additional harm. Cerebral contusions are caused from a direct blow to the head by another object.
Penetration injuries are caused by an object breaking through the skull and directly hitting the brain. They are rare in car accidents, but can occasionally occur, and are more common among motorcycle accidents when the individual is thrown off of their bike onto a dangerous surface. Penetrations injuries can often be fatal and require rapid emergency care.
Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries
Diffuse axonal brain injuries occur when the head is suddenly rotated or shaken at a high speed. They affect the entire brain, or large regions of it, because of the range of motion at a high rate of speed.
“Coup-contrecoup” Brain Injuries
This is a French term that means “hit/counter-hit.” It is considered a dangerous type of brain injury that affects completely opposite sides of the brain. It can occur in very high velocity accidents or accidents where the head is physically hit by something.