Head injuries are the result of trauma to the skull, brain, and/or scalp. Head injuries are classified as either open or closed head injuries. Closed head injuries are those in which a person suffers a traumatic blow to the head that does not result in penetration of the skull. Closed head injuries can also occur with severe shaking, as with whiplash and shaken baby syndrome. Diffuse Axonal Injury (DIA) is an example of closed head injury resulting from sudden twisting or torquing of the brain (i.e. whiplash), which leads to nerve injury in the white matter of the brain. Common closed head injuries include concussions, contusions (bruising of the brain), hematoma (accumulation of blood in the brain), and tears (lacerations) of the brain. With closed head injuries, the brain can be damaged even though the skull is not permeated.
Causes of Closed Head Injuries
In many cases, head injuries are very serious and result in significant brain damage, disability, and sometimes death. In fact, head injuries disable and kill more people under the age of 50 than any other type of neurological injury. Nearly 50 percent of all severe head injuries are fatal. Traumatic brain injury afflicts more than five million Americans each year.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of head injuries. In 70 percent of all motor vehicle accidents, a person suffers a head injury. Other leading causes of head injury include falls, sports injuries, physical violence, recreation-related accidents, and workplace accidents.
If you or a loved one have suffered a closed head injury at work, in a car accident, or due to another party’s wrongdoing or negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses and suffering. To learn more about your legal rights and options, please contact our qualified brain injury lawyers for a free confidential evaluation of your case.
Types of Closed Head Injuries
A concussion is a closed head injury caused by a sudden blow or impact, which shakes the brain within the skull and temporarily interrupts the brain’s normal functioning. Car accidents, bike accidents, sports injuries, fights, playground injuries, and falls are common causes of concussion.
It is not always easy to tell that a person has suffered a concussion in a traumatic accident. While many people experience the outward symptoms of concussion listed below, others do not display obvious signs of concussion. The symptoms of concussion can last anywhere from hours to even months, depending on the severity of the head injury.
The symptoms of concussion include:
- Loss of consciousness/ passing out/ feeling lightheaded
- Confusion and disorientation
- Inability to concentrate
- Inability to remember what happened just before or just after the accident
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting
- Temporary motor disruption: trouble with balance, walking, standing
- Sensory disturbances: blurred vision, ringing in the ears, seeing stars
After a concussion, many patients experience post concussion syndrome (also called post-concussive syndrome), which can involve symptoms such as persistent headache, confusion, emotional disturbances, dizziness, sleepiness, cognitive difficulties, trouble focusing, memory problems, and more.
If you suspect a concussion, it is important to seek medical attention following a closed head injury. A doctor can diagnose a concussion by conducting a physical exam and neurological examination, asking the patient more about the accident, and performing neurological tests such as a CT scan or MRI. Doctors check to determine whether or not any serious brain damage has occurred as a result of the concussion. If no serious injury has occurred, treatment is often not necessary. However, if a concussion results in serious injury, more extensive treatment may be required.
Second impact syndrome—which occurs when a person suffers even a minor head injury following a concussion—is a potentially serious complication of concussion. Therefore, people who have suffered a concussion must be sure not to return to activities that pose a risk for subsequent head injuries (i.e. a return to a sports game after a closed head injury).
Contusion and Laceration
Contusion is the medical name for bruising of the brain following a traumatic head injury. Lacerations are tears in the brain, which can occur in a traumatic brain injury accident. Generally speaking, contusion and laceration are more serious than concussion. In some cases, contusion and lacerations are minor and produce only mild symptoms. In more serious cases, however, these closed head injuries can result in serious headache, vomiting, dizziness, pupil irregularities, cognitive impairment, confusion, weakness and/or numbness, and more. MRI is often used to diagnose contusion and laceration closed head injuries.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
Diffuse Axonal Injury can be one of the most devastating types of head injury. In cases of severe DAI, as many as 80 percent of patients fall into a coma and never regain consciousness. Diffuse Axonal injury often occurs in accidents when the head rapidly accelerates and then decelerates, as in whiplash. This head injury typically results from twisting or rotational forces (angular momentum), as opposed to forward and back motion. The most common cause of diffuse axonal injury is motor vehicle accidents. It is often difficult to diagnose diffuse axonal injury.
If you or a loved one have suffered a closed head injury as a result of an accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your past and future damages, such as medical costs, disability, loss of income or earning potential, pain and suffering, and more. To learn, contact a closed head injury attorney at Oshman & Mirisola today.