Types of Brain Injuries

The brain is one of the most complex organs in the body – so much so that scientists still don’t fully understand how injuries will impact the brain and are unable to predict how a victim will react to brain cell damage. However, identifying the type of brain injury suffered can help shape the victim’s prognosis for recovery and the future, such as whether the victim can expect short-term or long-term symptoms.

Open vs. Closed Head Injury

When diagnosing a brain injury, a doctor will determine if there has been an open or closed head injury. An open head injury means that the skull has been fractured, punctured or otherwise compromised in association with the brain injury. A closed head injury means that the skull has remained intact, but the brain sustained an injury, such as by bouncing around inside of the skull. Both types of injuries are serious, but an open head injury comes with an added risk of infection.

Traumatic vs. Acquired Brain Injury

The other distinction that is made when diagnosing a brain injury is traumatic vs. acquired. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, refers to a brain injury caused by a source of external trauma, such as blunt force impact against the head in a car accident or slip and fall. An acquired brain injury (ABI) results from internal issues, such as something that interrupts the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain’s cells. An acquired brain injury can be caused by anesthesia errors, the misdiagnosis of a brain tumor, birth injuries, suffocation or drowning.


A concussion is the most commonly diagnosed type of traumatic brain injury. A victim can suffer a mild to severe concussion in an accident such as a car crash or sports incident. The symptoms associated with a concussion include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, loss of balance, confusion, memory loss and coma. Most concussions heal on their own within several days, but serious concussions or repeated trauma can have longer-lasting or even permanent consequences.

Coup-Contrecoup Injury

A coup-contrecoup brain injury actually refers to two injuries: one on the side of the brain that first suffered the impact and the other on the exact opposite side of the brain, from where the brain bounced off of the skull with enough force to cause an injury to the other side.

Diffuse-Axonal Injury

Brain injuries are not only caused by trauma to the head, such as a bump or blow to the skull. Some are caused by other forces exerted upon the skull that the brain cannot withstand, such as diffuse-axonal brain injuries. A diffuse-axonal injury refers to the shearing or tearing of the nerve fibers in the brain stem and other parts of the brain from a rotational force, such as the pull of gravity in a car accident.

Cerebral Edema

Edema is the medical term for swelling. Cerebral edema refers to a buildup of fluid around the brain, causing swelling that places pressure on the brain by squeezing it against the inside of the skull (intracranial pressure). Edema or inflammation of the brain can be fatal if not treated immediately with surgery to relieve the buildup of pressure.

Cerebral Hemorrhage

Cerebral hemorrhage means bleeding that takes place within or around the brain tissue due to ruptured arteries in the place that’s been injured. If left untreated, bleeding in the brain can result in a blood clot (hematoma) that can grow and place pressure on the brain, causing serious harm to the victim.

Diagnosed With a Brain Injury? We Can Help

If you or a loved one has suffered any type of brain injury in Milwaukee, contact an attorney for legal assistance. You may be entitled to financial compensation from the person or party that caused your injury, such as the other driver after a harmful car accident. An attorney from Mingo & Yankala, S.C. can help you understand your rights as a brain injury survivor, starting with a free case evaluation. Contact us today for more information.