What are the causes of closed head injury and head injuries?
Brain and head injuries can occur almost anywhere. Traumatic brain injury by its own wording is caused by a trauma. Tramatic brain injury (TBI) most often occurs in auto wrecks, many types of falls, ejection from a vehicle at high speeds, roof crush or roof collapse in a rollover, objects falling and striking the person, impacts of a child’s head onto a floor or in vehicles interior during collision, motorcycle accidents even with a helmet, from violent explosions and many other situations both industrial and residential.
Injuries involving some type of blow or the striking of one’s head are among the most common in our society. Some 700,000 people in North America suffer traumatic head injuries each year, and about 10-15% are left permanently disabled. Head injuries can range from relatively minor damage to the scalp and face such as lacerations, abrasions and bruising to more serious consequences involving damage to the brain, brain stem injuries, frontal lobe brain injury, anoxic brain injury and other closed head injury complications. While traumatic brain injury occurs much less frequently, it is important to know how it is identified and what to do for the person.
Loss of consciousness, even for a very brief period, is one of the clearest indications that the brain may have been affected by a blow to the head. A confusional state involving uncertainty about time, date, and location and/or a period of memory loss for the events surrounding the head injury are also indicators of trauma to the brain. Any of these symptoms following a blow to the head should be taken seriously.
Traumatic brain injury is a serious and debilitating injury. Persons with a severe brain injury often have problems with mental and physical functioning, and may require on-going supervision and assistance, as a result of post concussion syndrome. Even a person who has suffered a head or brain injury, with little or no documented loss of consciousness, may have permanent deficits which make it impossible for them to return to their previous lifestyle and sphere of activities.
Brain injuries arise from three characteristics of this brain-skull anatomy: the rigidity and internal contours of the skull, the incompressibility of brain tissue and the susceptibility of the brain to shearing forces.
The first two characteristics give rise to contusions or hematomas (i.e., bleeding) on the surface of the brain, one of the most common injuries. There are usually two contusion sites in a brain injury. One occurs at the site of the blow to the brain and is called the coup injury. The other arises where the brain bounces off the skull when it has been moved away from the site of the original blow. The contusion here is termed the contre coup injury. Some bleeding may also arise at the suture points when the dura mater is torn away from the inside of the skull.
The third characteristic, susceptibility to shearing forces, plays a role primarily in injuries which involve rapid and forceful movements of the head, such as in motor vehicle accidents. In these situations rotational forces such as might occur in whiplash-type injuries are particularly important. These forces, associated with the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head, are smallest at the point of rotation of the brain near the lower end of the brain stem and successively increase at increasing distances from this point. The resulting shearing forces cause different levels in the brain to move relative to one another. This movement produces stretching and tearing of axons (diffuse axonal injury) and the insulating myelin sheath, injuries which are the major cause of loss of consciousness in a head trauma. Small blood vessels are also damaged causing bleeding (petechial hemorrhages) deep within the brain.
Collectively these injuries can result in swelling of the brain. If the pressure within the skull is not relieved through surgery, cooling or medication, the brain will gradually be pushed down through the opening at the base of the skull, the foramen magnum. Nuclei in the brain stem controlling breathing and cardiac function will eventually be compressed resulting in death.
While not all head injuries are severe and life threatening, a person still should talk with a medical specialist and determine the full extent of their traumatic head injury. Often one may only experience a few head injury symptoms, but after a full array of medical testing the extent of a traumatic brain injury can be determined. Due to the nature of the loss and the expenses of medical care for a head injury patient, families of head injury patients must seek redress and monetary recovery in the courts from the negligent party that caused the injuries. In a lawsuit involving a traumatic brain injury, the brain injury lawyer will seek to recover: