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The Mechanics of Closed Head Injuries

Tuesday, March 21, 2017By Richard Alexander

Many people have heard the term “closed head injury,” but did you know that “open head injuries” also exist? Open head injuries involve a breach of the skull, which protects the brain. These injuries are frightening because there is usually a large amount of blood and because pieces of the skull can become lodged in the brain, requiring surgery.

A closed head injury exists when the skull is not compromised. For example, in a car wreck, the brain may be slammed into one side of the skull, then bounce into the other side of the skull. This type of brain injury is called a “coup-contrecoup” injury.

While a closed head brain injury might seem better than an open head injury, it can be equally dangerous. The brain tends to swell when it is injured, and this swelling presents increased pressure in the skull. This is known as increased intracranial pressure. When intracranial pressure is raised, this alone can cause additional injury to the brain.

Sometimes, the intracranial pressure will cause the brain to expand out through the eye sockets. This is particularly dangerous because compression of nerves running to the eye can compromise the person’s vision.

One common effect of a coup-contrecoup brain injury is called diffuse axonal injury. This term refers to the tearing of nerve cells in the brain. When this happens, the brain may release chemicals that cause additional damage. As a result of a diffuse axonal injury, nerves in the brain may fail to deliver messages at all or the messages may become confused during transmission. In addition, the person may suffer from many different types of functional impairments.

If you or someone you love received a brain injury as the result of someone else's wrongful behavior, contact the Alexander Law Group, LLP today at 888.777.1776. We are a nationally-recognized and award-winning personal injury law firm with offices in San Jose and San Francisco, and we stay up-to-date on medical and legal developments in the area of brain injury.

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