Traumatic Brain Injury Classifications and Related Symptoms

Gabriel A. Assaad
Partner Gabriel Assaad represents victims of negligence and medical malpractice nationwide.

High-impact collisions, falls, exposure to harmful toxins and chemicals, and can all lead to varying degrees of brain injuries. The consequences of these events vary, but can be severe, life-altering and even fatal. In some cases, a brain injury may be caused due to the negligence or criminal behavior Traumatic Brain Injury Iconof another individual or business. Victims of these events may pursue compensation for the pain, suffering, medical bills, and even property damage that resulted from the event.

Anyone who has experienced trauma to the brain should consult with a doctor to diagnose and treat their symptoms. In some cases, symptoms can go unnoticed; it is recommended that individuals who have been involved in common causes of brain injuries still pursue medical attention—even in the absence of telltale symptoms. Below is a brief breakdown for those seeking information on brain injury types, their common origins, and potential symptoms.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries occur when an external force causes trauma to the brain. Causes include car crashes, gunshot wounds, injuries from falling objects, falls, sports-related collisions, and assaults. There is a variety of trauma-induced brain injuries, including:

  • Concussions: Concussions may not be detected by CT scans and MRI tests and are often diagnosed by the process of elimination. A concussion is the most common traumatic brain injury and is generally the mildest.

  • Contusions: Cerebral bruising caused by a high-force impact to the head is classified as a contusion. Patients suffering from contusions often participate in physical therapy to minimize inflammation and reduce pain levels. In some cases, patients may undergo surgery to remove the affected area.

  • Penetrations: Penetrations are injuries caused by a collision with a sharp or high-velocity object, such as a bullet, causing bone fragments from skull fractures or other foreign objects to penetrate the brain. Depending on the specific details regarding the penetration injury—such as location and scope of the injury, duration of time before receiving medical care, and blood loss—consequences may range from memory, speech or language loss and emotional problems to partial or total paralysis.

  • Diffuse Axonal Injuries: Shaking or rotating of the head in a traumatic way may cause a diffuse axonal brain injury. These injuries are particularly common in car crashes and can result in tearing of nerve tissues, chemical imbalances within the brain and, in the most severe cases, coma, permanent brain damage or death.

Acquired Brain Injuries

Acquired brain injuries are injuries caused by an incident other than trauma to the head. Symptoms can range depending on the severity and cause of the injury. Causes of acquired brain injuries can include exposure to toxins, such as carbon monoxide, infections in the brain, near drowning, brain tumors, stroke, and cerebral bleeding.

Other common acquired brain injuries—anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries—have to do with a reduction in the flow of oxygen to the brain. In a hypoxic brain injury, the brain is receiving some—but not enough—oxygen. These injuries can cause permanent brain damage and, in the worst cases, death. Even more dangerous, anoxic brain injuries occur when a brain’s oxygen supply is completely cut off. Initial symptoms include lightheadedness, sweating, vision problems, numbness, and tingling. However, the injury can quickly progress to cerebral swelling, seizures, coma, a persistent vegetative state, and death.

Due to the seriousness of brain injuries, brain injury patients can become overwhelmed by the recovery process and the financial impact of the injury. In addition, they are likely to feel traumatized by the event itself, tired and terrified of future complications that may prevent them from returning to the quality of life they once had. For these individuals, it may be beneficial to work with an experienced attorney to objectively analyze available evidence and other factors that may impact a claim’s strength. An attorney can also resolutely negotiate a settlement and, if necessary, pursue your claim’s true worth in the courtroom.