There are many types of brain injuries that can occur during an accident, and it’s important to know the differences, and how to avoid them.
From concussions to anoxal injury, there are many types of trauma.
Below we explain the various types injuries as well as the most common causes of head trauma that can lead to brain damage.
6 Common Types of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can either be open or closed head injuries. A blunt force impact results in closed head injuries while penetrations can cause an open head injury. The specific types of brain injuries include:
Concussions are the most common types of brain injuries. A sudden blow to the head can shake your brain and cause a concussion.
Depending on the force of impact, this injury can be mild or severe. Even mild concussions have the potential to cause lifelong damage. They can permanently change mood, behavior and other functions of the brain.
They may be caused due to a direct blow to the head or a gunshot wound. The brain is in trauma due to the impact of the sudden blow or movement. A person may or may not experience a loss of consciousness. It can also cause other severe brain injuries like a blood clot formation or a diffuse axonal injury (DAI).
2. Penetrating Injury
Sharp objects (such as knives, bullets, etc.) are responsible for penetrating injuries to the brain. The damage caused to the brain depends on the speed at which the object penetrates the skull and brain.
- A slow traveling object can ricochet within the skull and cause a wide area of damage.
- On the other hand, a “through-and-through” injury such as a bullet to the brain, causes other penetration injuries like the rupture of the brain tissue, additional shearing, etc.
Bullets are the leading cause of death that result from traumatic brain injury.
Open head injuries have significantly higher risks of fatal consequences. The immediate side effects include bleeding, blood clots, limited oxygen supply, etc. Further, removing the object can often cause further bleeding and damage.
3. Subdural Hematoma
A subdural hematoma causes blood to pool in the brain. A tear of even a single blood vessel within the brain’s dura (or cover), can cause blood to collect in the brain. Minor head injuries (like falls or bumps to the head) can also result in this severe consequence.
Infants and elderly people are more prone to these injuries. This is because the blood vessels in their brains are more vulnerable to tearing. Due to age, the blood vessels may be stretched or shrinking in older people. Newborns, on the other hand, may experience damage during delivery.
4. Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury
Similar to concussions, diffuse axonal brain injuries also result in the brain shaking due to sudden movement. However, these injuries are more severe than concussions.
It occurs when the head is unable to handle the rate of movement and shakes violently enough to cause tears in the brain. These tears may be deadly when large or cause minor injuries when microscopic.
This injury impacts several regions of the brain. The brain tissue slides over itself producing lesions, due to the rapid shaking or acceleration of the brain. Many sports-related accidents and motor vehicle accidents risk a diffuse axonal brain injury. The extent of the injury determines the risk of damage to other brain functions.
5. Anoxic and Hypoxic Brain Injury
Anoxic brain injuries are caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain. Oxygen is carried to the brain through the bloodstream. A blockage usually results in such injuries. It can be the result of a
- Heart attack
- Blood clot
Without oxygen to operate, the brain cells begin to die.
Hypoxic brain injury is the result of limited or incomplete oxygen supply to the brain. In this case, the brain receives some oxygen, but not enough. This results in brain damage.
It is caused due to insufficient oxygen in the lungs. Drowning, cardiac arrest, exposure to poisonous gases, etc. can cause hypoxic brain injuries.
A brain contusion usually occurs along with other major types of brain injuries. The injury is caused by bruising the head and results in a mild bleeding under the skin. This bleeding usually stops on its own. However, if a contusion does not stop bleeding it must be surgically removed.
The bruise may be visible on the head in the form of a blue coloration of the skin. On the brain, such contusions can cause complications such as a build-up of pressure in the brain. Severe bruises can also cause coup and contrecoup injuries.
These occur when the impact on the brain affects the opposing side of the impact point (on the skull or brain).