Head and Brain Injuries

Car accidents are a leading cause of head and brain injuries. Brain injury can occur when the head has been struck, usually by striking an object such as a windshield, or when the brain undergoes a sudden acceleration/deceleration movement (as in a whiplash injury) without direct external trauma to the head. Many brain injuries are the result of bruising, bleeding, twisting or tearing of brain tissue. Damage to the brain may occur at the time of the accident, or develop over time as tissues swell and bleed within the head.

The anatomy of a brain injury

The brain is several pounds of a jelly-like substance containing millions of microscopic fibers suspended in cerebrospinal fluid. The brain works by sending neuro-chemical signals across axonal-dendric connections known as synapses. When brain tissue is disturbed in an injury, these axonal-dendric connections can be disturbed or broken.

The brain has three main areas: the cortex, the cerebellum and the brain stem (diancephalon).

The cortex is the center where most thinking takes place. It has four lobes, and two hemispheres: the right and the left.

The left hemisphere is often the dominant structure and controls verbal functions such as speaking, writing, reading and calculating. The right controls visual-spatial functions such as visual memory, copying, drawing and rhythm.

The frontal lobe is sometimes damaged in accidents because of its location near the front of the cranium. The frontal lobe is considered a center for emotional and personality traits.

The cerebellum controls our coordination and balance.

The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord and controls survival functions, such as breathing, heart rate, consciousness and alertness.

Fortunately the brain is protected by our skull or cranium. However, the inner surface of the skull contains ribbing and bony structures. If the brain moves forcefully inside the skull, it can be thrust into these bony structures causing injury.

Types of head injuries:

Contusion or Concussion

A contusion or concussion occurs when the brain is bruised by striking the cranium. The injury causes headaches, vomiting, dizziness and problems remembering or concentrating. It can have can have long-term consequences.

Anoxic brain injury

An anoxic brain injury disrupts blood flow to the brain. An anoxic brain injury is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain usually through bleeding and swelling of brain tissue.

Skull fracture

A skull fracture is a break in the bone that surrounds the brain. Often a skull fracture will heal on its’ own but if there is tissue damage below the fracture surgery may be required.

Contrecoup

A contrecoup injury occurs when the brain is propelled against both sides of the skull. In this type of injury the brain will rebound and collide with the opposite side of the skull-when it strikes both sides of the skull. The result is a contrecoup injury.

Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)

A type of brain injury called Diffuse Axonal Injury occurs with the rotation and disruption of the brain inside the skull, which severs or shears the brain's long connecting nerve fibers or axons. This damage can be microscopic and difficult to measure. In cases involving "mild brain injury" the effects of this may be not be long term, but following more severe brain injury it can result in permanent disability and unconsciousness and coma. Unfortunately, there is no real treatment for diffuse axonal injury. Recent studies indicate the damage to axons appears to progress over the first 12 to 24 hours after the injury. It is hoped that in the near future it may be possible to prevent the progression with specific treatments.

Epidural hematoma

Epidural hematoma involves the formation of a blood clot between the skull and the top lining of the brain (dura). This clot causes pressure changes in the brain can require emergency surgery.

Subdural hematoma

A subtotal hematoma is the formation of a blood clot between the brain tissue and the dura. If it occurs slowly over several weeks it is referred to as a subdural hematoma; if it occurs quickly it is referred to an acute subdural hematoma. Like other clots this may require surgical correction.

If you have relieved a blow to the head and are suffering from a head or brain injury as a result of a car accident you should see a doctor and contact an attorney.

Highly Specialized

The science behind brain injuries is constantly changing and highly technical. Attorneys who handle these cases should have extensive experience in the field. The cases often require the testimony of medical experts and psychological testing.

Should you require assistance with a Head or Brain Injury, please contact us (FORM LINK) for an immediate free evaluation of your situation. We have dealt with many of these cases and can be an invaluable resource.

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