4 Types of Brain Injuries and 3 Levels of Severity
Gregg Hollander | June 16, 2021 | Brain Injuries
A brain injury can cause permanent cognitive, emotional, and physical impairments. Prompt medical treatment is essential after a head injury or any accident that could result in injury to the brain. Knowing the symptoms of a brain injury can help you know when to seek medical care.
Symptoms of a brain injury may include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Problems with balance, including dizziness
- Fatigue or being unable to awaken easily
- Vomiting and nausea
- Changes in personality or mood
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Changes in vision
Brain injury symptoms vary depending on the person, the type of brain injury, and the severity of the injury. Danger signs that indicate you need to seek immediate emergency medical care include seizures, headaches that don’t go away, slurred speech, repeated vomiting, cannot recognize places or people, or the inability to wake up.
It is always best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you experience any changes in mood, physical condition, or cognitive function after a head injury.
What Are the Three Levels of Brain Injury?
Brain injuries may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. The level of brain injury depends on the severity, location, and size of damage to the brain.
Mild brain injuries may or may not result in the loss of consciousness. If the person loses consciousness, it is typically only for a few minutes. There may be some temporary confusion or disorientation, but a mild injury to the brain generally heals within a few weeks with minimal medical intervention.
Moderate brain injuries can result in the loss of consciousness for a few hours. The person may experience a variety of symptoms for a few weeks after sustaining the brain injury. In some cases, complications from a moderate brain injury could last for several months or become permanent.
Severe brain injuries can result in life-threatening conditions. These brain injuries have the highest risk of causing permanent impairments and disabilities. A severe brain injury could result in a coma or permanent vegetative state. Immediate and extensive medical treatment is required for severe brain injuries.
Four Types of Brain Injuries Common in Personal Injury Cases
There are many different types of brain injuries. For example, a brain injury may be caused by an object entering the brain through the skull (penetrating brain injury) or from blunt force trauma or a jolt to the head (closed brain injury). In either case, the result can be devastating for the victim.
Four types of brain injuries that are common in personal injury cases include:
Concussions are one of the most common types of brain injury. They are generally considered mild brain injuries. Blunt force trauma is one cause of concussions. However, concussions may also be caused by strong jolts, such as whiplash, that cause the brain to move violently within the skull.
Even though concussions are considered mild brain injuries, there could be complications. If a person sustains a second concussion soon after the first concussion or repeated concussions over several years, the chance of permanent disabilities and long-term complications increase substantially.
Contusions are bruises to the brain that result in blood vessels breaking inside the brain. This type of brain injury is generally caused when something causes the brain to move within the skull, such as a fall, whiplash, or blunt force trauma. Contusions are often described as coup, contrecoup, and coup-contrecoup injuries.
A coup injury occurs when the damage is directly below where the head is struck by an object or hits an object. Contrecoup injuries occur when a blow to the head forces the brain to slam into the opposite side of the skull, causing injury to the opposite side of the brain from the blow.
Coup-contrecoup brain injuries occur when the brain is injured on both sides of the brain. As a result, a contusion develops directly below the strike to the head and on the opposite side of the strike.
Contusions can range from mild to severe. Doctors may overlook injuries to the opposite side of the brain, which could result in severe complications if timely treatment is not provided.
Anoxic Brain Injuries
Anoxic brain damage is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Any decrease in oxygen to the brain can result in severe brain damage. After four minutes without oxygen, brain cells begin to die.
There are several causes of anoxic brain damage, including drowning. The risk of permanent impairments increases each second the brain is deprived of oxygen.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
DAI, or diffuse axonal injury, is caused by the brain rapidly shifting position within the skull, such as in a high-speed car accident or fall. The result is the axons (long connecting fibers inside the brain) are sheared as the brain strikes the skull. The damage from a DAI can be extensive and cover many areas of the brain.
DAI may range from mild to severe. Severe cases of diffuse axonal injury can result in comas and permanent disabilities or impairments. Unfortunately, the outcome for patients with DAI is typically poor, and complete recovery is usually not possible.
Seeking Compensation for Brain Injuries
If your brain injury resulted from another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, you might be entitled to compensation for your economic damages and non-economic damages. A personal injury lawyer can review your case and advise you of the steps you need to take to file a personal injury claim.