Skip to Content
Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law
Free Consultations 505-219-2176

What Are the Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

woman with eyes closed holding head in pain

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBI, are injuries that disrupt the normal function of the brain and are caused by either a blow to the head or a penetrating head injury. They are often triggered by the head violently hitting an object, a forceful jerk that causes the brain to move back and forth in the skull (such as whiplash), or an object piercing the skull far enough to embed into the brain. These injuries can range from temporary to permanent and mild to severe, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The most common causes of TBI are:

  • Falls
  • Being struck by or against an object
  • Traffic accidents
  • Assault
  • Sports injuries

Understanding the Differences Between Various TBIs

Because there are so many different types of TBIs, it can be difficult for accident victims to determine how badly they’ve been injured and if and when they need treatment. Our Albuquerque brain injury attorney Michael J Doyle explains the types of traumatic brain injuries that can be caused in motor vehicle and other accidents.

What is a Primary Brain Injury?

A primary brain injury occurs immediately at the onset of trauma to the head.

Types of primary brain injuries include:

  • Concussion: A mild TBI caused by a blow to the head or violent shaking of the head. While there’s no specific cure, concussions can be treated, and it is possible to recover with time and rest.
  • Contusions: A contusion is a bruise. Brain contusions usually heal after a week or so of icing the wound and getting a lot of rest.
  • Diffuse axonal injury (DAI): DAI occurs when the brain rapidly shifts inside the skull, such as during whiplash or a fall. It’s usually followed by a period of unconsciousness and symptoms like confusion, headaches, and nausea. Recovery varies depending on the severity of the injury—in mild cases, steroids are taken to reduce brain swelling; serious cases can lead to a vegetative state or even death.
  • Hematoma: Hematoma occurs when a pool of blood forms between the brain and its outer covering. Cases range from mild to severe—all instances require emergency care, and the most serious may call for surgery. Hematoma is usually healed within months of the initial injury.
  • Lacerations: Cerebral lacerations occur when brain tissue tears. Lacerations are caused by an object or bone fragment from a skull fracture puncturing the brain. These can also range from mild to severe. If brain bleeding and swelling occurs as a result, intensive care and surgery may be required.

What is a Secondary Brain Injury?

A secondary brain injury occurs gradually and may not be immediately evident following an accident. Secondary brain injuries can be caused by a primary brain injury or be independent of them.

Examples of secondary brain injuries include:

  • Cerebral edema: Swelling of the brain
  • Raised intracranial pressure: Increased pressure within the skull
  • Herniation: Occurs when parts of the brain become displaced
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure
  • Hypotension: Low blood pressure
  • Hypoxia: Not enough oxygen in the brain
  • Ischemia: Insufficient blood flow

Diffuse Brain Injuries

Brain injuries that occur over a widespread area are termed diffuse brain injuries. Because they affect large areas of the brain, they can be hard to diagnose or even detect—especially when the damage is widespread but microscopic. Diffuse brain injury is the most common type of TBI. Cases mentioned above that fall into this category include ischemia, cerebral edema, and diffuse axonal injury.

Focal Brain Injuries

Focal brain injuries are typically much more obvious because they occur due to direct force (such as a head striking a windshield) and the damage is usually visible. They affect a limited area of the brain rather than being spread out. Focal brain injuries include contusions and lacerations.

If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI as the result of a car accident, slip and fall, or other accident caused by the wrongdoing or negligence of another party, contact Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law. Our Albuquerque brain injury attorney will fight to win you and your family just compensation.