10 Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries Caused by Accidents

10 Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries Caused by Accidents

Serious personal injury cases all too often involve accident victims who have suffered a serious brain injury and must deal with the consequences of that bodily harm.  Along with their families and friends, TBI victims face a life permanently altered by accidental head trauma.

We discuss these realities in their various forms here on this blog.  Things like concussions suffered by girls playing soccer at school, to construction workers who fall from a height on the job site, and course, brain injuries caused by all kinds of motor vehicle accidents from bus crashes to motorcycle accidents.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Today, as part of our contribution to Brain Injury Awareness Month, we turn the focus not just on head injuries caused by accidents here in Indiana and Illinois, but the different types of brain injuries that can result.

Not all brain injuries are the same.  There are many different kinds of traumatic brain injury.  Different types of head trauma will require different kinds of health care and medical providers. 

Damage claims will reflect the unique needs of the particular accident victim, both short term and long term, as well as the needs of their family. 

Different Kinds of Serious Brain Injury

Bleeding, bruising, and broken bones (fractures) can all be a part of a serious brain injury.  The result will be some level of permanent damage to the brain’s ability to function.  At its most severe, the brain injury will be fatal to its victim.

Two Kinds of Brain Injuries:  Traumatic and Acquired

There are two kinds of life-threatening brain injuries.  Accident claims involve only one kind of brain injury, the traumatic brain injury.

1. Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries are by definition harm to the human brain that alters brain function or brain pathology that is caused by an external force.

2. Acquired Brain Injury

Acquired brain injuries are brain injuries caused by things like brain tumors, strokes, drownings, lightning strikes, etc.  They are caused by non-traumatic factors, i.e., something that is not induced by an external force.

10 Types of Traumatic Brain Injury That Result From Serious Accidents

Here are descriptions of those kinds of brain injuries most often made the basis of personal injury accident lawsuits and wrongful death cases:

1. Anoxia / DAI / Shearing

Anoxia involves a lack of oxygen supply to the brain tissues.  It can happen whether or not there is enough blood flow to the area.   Lack of oxygen causes permanent damage or death.

Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a common type of brain injury.  Sometimes it is called shearing.  DAI (shearing) is often the result of motor vehicle accidents, sporting events, or falls.  The brain’s white matter is damaged severely.

This is the part of the brain that carries electrical impulse communications along the brain’s nerve cells.  The DAI involves harm to this communication network and the harm can be permanent.  Even if there is a complete recovery, it takes a very long time.

2. Concussion

Concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury that is considered the most common type of TBI. It involves the victim losing consciousness for a period of time because of head trauma.  Of note are concussions suffered by TBI victims playing in a variety of sports, from school football to soccer.

While some may consider concussions to be minor injuries, the reality is that a concussion is a TBI and when left untreated, they can result in serious and debilitating injuries for the victim.  Additionally, repeated concussions, a reality for many athletes today, increases the likelihood of death or permanent disability.

3. Contrecoup / Coup-Contrecoup

A contrecoup injury happens as the result of the brain shaking back and forth within the skull, injuring the brain tissue.  Both sides of the head are hit, or slammed, with great force. Contrecoup brain injuries are often the result of a serious motor vehicle accident, especially when the car comes to a sudden stop after driving at a high rate of speed.

4. Contusion

When the brain is hit hard enough to sustain a bruise, this is called a “contusion.”  Contusions can be caused by skull fractures.  In a contusion, a specific part of the brain tissue is hurt and swells as blood from broken blood vessels escapes into the surrounding tissue.  Contusions can happen in all sorts of accidents where the victim suffers head trauma, including a slip and fall or a bicycle accident.

5. Depressed Skull Fracture

In a depressed skull fracture, the skull bones are broken and pieces or shards pierce the brain tissue.

6. Epidural Hematoma

An epidural hematoma involves bleeding into the area between the skull and the dura.   It is one of the three kinds of hematomas that cause permanent brain damage.  In any hematoma, one of the brain’s major blood vessels is harmed and blood leaks into the brain or seeps out around it.

7. Hypoxia

Hypoxia is the damage that happens when there is not enough oxygen supplied to the brain.  If the brain cells do not have sufficient oxygen at all times, they begin to die.  This can happen very fast.

8. Intracerebral Hematoma

Intracerebral hematoma happens when there is bleeding inside the brain.  It is the second form of hematoma that causes permanent brain damage or death.  (See, epidural hematoma, above).

9. Penetrating Skull Fracture

Skull fractures describe broken bones in the skull.  The skull is the set of bones that surround the brain. In a penetrating skull fracture, the accident causes an outside object to pierce the skull and break the bone as well as damage the brain tissue.  Penetrating skull fractures can be seen in motor vehicle accidents where foreign objects move with such force that they can penetrate the skull of an accident victim.

10. Subdural Hematoma

This is the third kind of hematoma caused by a head injury.  (See, epidural hematoma and intracerebral hematoma, above).  In a subdural hematoma, bleeding is confined to the area between the dura and the arachnoid membrane.  Again, the hematoma can cause serious and permanent injury or death to the brain injury victim.

Accident Damage Claims After a Traumatic Brain Injury

Having seen the tragic results of an accident involving a traumatic brain injury, we are all too aware that the TBI victim may not be aware that they have been seriously injured at the time of impact.  There are athletes that continue to play after suffering a concussion, for instance.

However, the public – and especially parents – need to be aware of the dangers of Traumatic Brain Injury in all its forms, and the need to be attune to the risk and danger of brain injury in any kind of head trauma.  Why?  Because the victim may be unaware of the damage, and that there is blood leaking in their brain, or that they have suffered a skull fracture.   

If someone falls on the job site, did they suffer a head trauma?  Only a medical examination can confirm this.  If a child is injured while playing soccer, did they suffer a TBI?  Again, only a medical exam will reveal if they have suffered a serious brain injury.

Please be aware of the complexities of Traumatic Brain Injury.  If you or a loved one is involved in an accident where there may have been a hit to the head, then it’s vital that medical care and evaluation be sought as soon as possible in the event that a TBI is involved.


As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, we hope for an increased awareness of the dangers facing all of us of a serious brain injury in any kind of serious accident as well as increased public support and compassion for victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries and their loved ones.  Let’s be careful out there!

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