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Types of Brain Injuries From Car Accidents

October 21, 2019

One of the most common injuries suffered in Colorado car accidents is TBI, or traumatic brain injury. TBI does not describe just one injury, but a category of injury that encompasses several specific types of damages to the brain. The particular type of traumatic brain injury could determine the symptoms the patient experiences, as well as his or her prognosis for recovery. After any type of brain injury in an auto accident, the victim may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against one or more at-fault parties with the help of a Denver brain injury lawyer.

Woman with a brain injury after a car accident


Concussions, or mild TBIs, are the most frequent brain injury in traumatic accidents. In a single year, over 812,000 children 17 and younger went to the emergency room for concussion or TBI. Concussions are typically mild and nonfatal. Some can be more serious, however, and cause lasting damages. The symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, fatigue and brief changes in mental status. Most concussions require rest for a patient to fully recover. More serious concussions, however, may need medical intervention.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

This type of brain injury is common in car accidents in Denver. It arises not from a bump to the head but from extreme forces exerted on the head and brain, such as those in a serious car crash or amusement park ride. If the brain rapidly moves around inside the skull, it can compromise the connection between the brain and the rest of the body. Fibers within the delicate brain stem can tear or shear, causing devastating injuries. People with diffuse axonal injuries often end up in comas.


A contusion within the brain refers to a bruise. The brain could suffer a contusion in an auto accident when something impacts the head from the outside. Contusions are localized injuries that can be minor or life-threatening. Blows from sharp objects in a car accident are likely to cause contusions. A major cerebral contusion can ultimately cause brain herniation, a severe TBI where parts of the brain squeeze past the skull. Patients with brain contusions often require emergency intervention to treat the swelling of the brain.


This type of TBI also arises from an impact with an object. A coup-contrecoup brain injury occurs in two places: at the site of the impact (coup) and on the opposite side of the brain (contrecoup). These injuries happen if the brain moves within the skull in an impact. The movement of the brain after the impact could cause the brain to collide with the skull on the opposite side of the head, so the victim suffers two brain injuries instead of one.

Open Head Injury

An open head injury is one that involves a cracked or fractured skull as well as a brain injury. A penetrating brain injury is a serious type of open head injury in which an object penetrates the skull and brain. Projectiles in a vehicle accident could cause a penetrating or open head injury. These injuries may require surgeries to relieve pressure on the skull from a swelling brain. Wound debridement may also be necessary after the removal of the object that penetrated the skull and/or brain. High-velocity brain penetrations have the worse prognoses for recovery.

Acquired Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury (ABI) occurs from within the body, not external forces. Examples of ABIs include anoxic and hypoxic injuries, in which the brain does not receive enough blood or oxygen to continue functioning properly. Lack of oxygen or blood could starve brain cells enough to permanently damage or kill them, which can also occur in secondary brain injuries. Dead brain cells cannot regenerate. This may cause lifelong effects for the brain injury survivor. Serious trauma to the brain in a car accident could staunch blood flow in the brain enough to cause an ABI.