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What Is Considered Traumatic Brain Injury?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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The human brain is incredibly complex, responsible for managing every conscious and unconscious bodily process. Unfortunately, it is also highly vulnerable to traumatic injury, and recovering from brain injuries is very challenging. Any type of brain injury can potentially result in a host of immediate and long-term effects on the victim, some of them being extremely debilitating.

The term “traumatic brain injury” refers to any type of physical injury to the brain. One of the most difficult aspects of treating brain injuries is the fact that everyone who suffers a brain injury will have a unique experience and different symptoms. Brain injuries often demand long-term treatment and have a very high chance of resulting in permanent disabilities. These injuries can happen in countless ways in many different settings, and brain injuries are generally categorized into four types.

What is considered traumatic brain injury?


A concussion is a closed head injury that occurs whenever the brain hits the inside of the skull. The brain rests suspended in the fluid inside of the skull cavity, and a sudden shift in momentum or crash impact force can cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull. Concussions are very common in professional sports like football and ice hockey; they can also happen from motor vehicle accidents, work-related accidents, and slip-and-fall incidents.

One of the most challenging aspects of concussion treatment is the unpredictability of these injuries. Two people could appear to suffer identical concussion injuries yet have vastly different symptoms and recovery experiences. Common symptoms of concussions include sensory disruption, sensitivity to light and sound, memory disruption, and persistent headaches. One concussion also leaves the victim more likely to suffer concussions in the future.


A brain contusion can happen for many of the same reasons that concussions occur. This type of injury is characterized by physical injury to the surface of the brain, resulting in bruising and/or bleeding. Car accidents, slip-and-fall incidents, and many other types of accidents can cause brain contusions. Blunt force trauma to the head may not always rupture the skull, but the impact force can cause a contusion on the surface of the brain below the injury site.

Contusions are more serious than concussions and are often life-threatening if the victim does not receive immediate medical care. In addition, victims who recover from these injuries often experience various long-term or permanent complications, and they will typically require ongoing rehabilitative care.

Axonal Brain Injuries

This type of brain injury is the result of oxygen deprivation. The brain requires a constant supply of oxygen; otherwise, brain tissue will start rapidly dying, and bodily functions will cease. Drowning, strangulation, and exposure to toxic substances are the most common causes of these injuries. The damage from an axonal brain injury is usually permanent, and the scope of the harm done to the victim typically depends on how long their brain was deprived of oxygen.

Penetrating Head Injuries

These are open-head brain injuries and the most serious brain injuries that anyone can suffer. A penetrating head injury is any injury in which a foreign object pierces or breaks the skull, exposing the brain tissue itself to physical rupture. Gunshots, severe blunt force trauma to the head, falling objects, and high-speed vehicle accidents are the most commonly cited causes of this type of injury.

Any penetrating head injury is a medical emergency that demands immediate treatment. The injury itself is not only extremely dangerous, but the exposed brain is vulnerable to infection, and severe bleeding can result in death in a matter of minutes. In addition, many people who survive penetrating head injuries experience a host of symptoms, some of which may prevent them from working or living independently in the future.


Q: What Are Some Examples of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

A: The four most common types of traumatic brain injuries are penetrating injuries, closed injuries like concussions and contusions, and axonal injuries caused by oxygen deprivation. Any brain injury has the potential to cause life-threatening complications, and all brain injuries demand immediate medical intervention.

Q: What Is Considered a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?

A: Generally, concussions are widely regarded as the least serious brain injuries. Most people who suffer concussions will make full recoveries with time and appropriate rehabilitative care. However, any concussion will leave the victim more susceptible to concussions in the future. Additionally, a concussion may cause symptoms that do not appear immediately. It is also possible for symptoms to change and fluctuate in intensity over time.

Q: What Brain Injury Is the Most Dangerous?

A: Any penetrating head injury has the highest chance of resulting in death or permanent harm to the victim. Gunshots and interpersonal violence can result in these injuries, as can serious motor vehicle crashes, explosions, and falling objects. Penetrating head injuries are the most likely to result in instant or near-instant death of the victim. If a victim survives and receives prompt medical care, they may never regain full function after reaching maximum medical improvement.

Q: What Are the Possible Long-Term Effects of a Brain Injury?

A: Any type of brain injury has the potential to result in neurological, cognitive, or sensory disruption into the future. Some victims experience memory loss and have trouble with memory function following their injuries. Persistent headaches, migraines, and sensitivity to light and sound are also common long-term symptoms of brain injuries.

Q: Can I File a Civil Claim for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A: If your recent brain injury was the result of any other party’s intentional or negligent conduct, you have the right to seek accountability for your damages through a personal injury claim. If the injury happened while you were working, you likely have grounds to file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer’s insurance carrier.

The attorneys at Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler have years of professional experience helping our clients with personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims, including many cases pertaining to traumatic brain injuries. We know the challenges these serious injuries can present to victims and their families and have the experience necessary to guide you through the legal proceedings you may face after suffering this type of injury. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about the legal services we offer.