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What Causes Traumatic Brain Injuries?

tbi injury attorney in Charlottesville, VA

Brain injury, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), refers to a condition in which there is a change in brain function or brain pathology, due to damage caused by an external force. The various types of traumatic brain injuries that can occur are as follows:

  • Penetration: A hard object, such as a knife or bullet, penetrates the skull and brain.
  • Crushed: The skull and brain are compressed between two rigid surfaces.
  • Open: The skull is broken with an opening, leading the brain to become exposed.
  • Closed: The skull might sustain a fracture without an opening, enabling the brain to remain enclosed by the skull. This form of brain injury is the most commonly occurring one.

Primary Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Diffuse Axonal

These types of injuries can occur due to strong rotation or shaking of the head. Diffuse Axonal injuries are similar to those that arise due to Shaken Baby Syndrome or rotational forces, such as the ones experienced in a car crash.

In such cases, the injury occurs as the stationary brain cannot keep up with the skull’s movement. This leads to substantial nerve tissue tearing within the brain. It can also cause the release of brain chemicals leading to further injury.

The regular chemical and communication functions of the brain change due to nerve tissue tearing. It can cause permanent or temporary brain damage, coma, or even death. People with axonal injuries can suffer from various functional impairments, which is determined by the area of the brain where the tears (shearing) occurs.


The most commonly occurring type of TBI is a concussion. It happens due to a direct blow to the head or body and can present as both open and closed head injuries. A concussion occurs when the brain’s blood vessels are stretched, and the cranial nerves suffer damage. A victim may or may not suffer from a short (below 20 minutes) period of unconsciousness.

The victim may remain conscious but say or act as if they feel “punch drunk” or “dazed.” A majority of concussions occur at a microscopic scale. This means that such injuries may not be detected through diagnostic imaging tests, such as CAT scans.

At times, a concussion is diagnosed by exclusion. It is believed to be a complex neurobehavioral condition, as a fractured skull, brain bleeding, and/or inflammation may or may not occur.

Concussions can lead to diffuse axonal type injury as well. This may lead to temporary or permanent damage. It may take between a few months and a few years to recover from a concussion. 

Shaken Baby Syndrome

This condition refers to a violent criminal activity that leads to brain injury. Shaken Baby Syndrome happens when the offender shakes an infant or a young child in an aggressive manner.

The strong whiplash-like movement leads to Coup-Contrecoup injuries to the brain of the child. The forceful movement causes the blood vessels encompassed in the brain and skull to tear and bleed. The brain swells and compresses brain tissue due to the accumulation of blood, causing damage to brain cells.

Shaken Baby Syndrome can lead to altered eating patterns, fatigue, difficulty breathing, migraine headaches, dilated pupils, vomiting, seizures, lifelong disability, coma, and even death. Any child experiencing symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome requires immediate medical attention.

Penetrating or Open Injury

A penetrating injury to the brain occurs when the skull sustains a fracture due to the impact of a knife, bullet, or a sharp object that forces skin, hair, bone, and matter from the object to enter the brain. If an object goes into the skull, enters the brain, and exits the skull, it is known as a “through-and-through” injury.

Through-and-through TBIs cause penetration injury effects as well as tearing, stretching, and rupture of the brain tissue. If an object is moving at a low speed through the skull and brain, it can rebound within the skull. This will cause an increase in the area and level of damage. 

Closed Head Injury

A “closed head injury” takes place when an individual sustains a blow to the head from an external force, but it does not cause the skull to displace or fracture. In such cases, the brain swells and does not have room to expand. This may lead to increased intracranial pressure, and the brain tissues may compress, leading to additional injury.

Second Impact Syndrome or “Recurrent Traumatic Brain Injury”

Second Impact Syndrome, or “recurrent traumatic brain injury,” takes place when an individual receives a second TBI before the initial TBI heals. The second injury may happen from days to weeks after the initial injury. The second impact is significantly more likely to lead to brain swelling and extensive damage. Such patients need immediate medical treatment as death can occur rapidly in second impact syndrome cases. 

Legal Help by Experienced Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys

It is vital to consult an experienced attorney with a deep understanding of TBI cases if you or someone you love has undergone a brain injury. The seasoned lawyers at Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz Ltd. will answer your questions and handle the insurance companies to allow you to focus on your recovery.

We have a close network of industry experts, investigators, and health professionals to make sure that you receive the rightful compensation that you deserve. Contact a skilled traumatic brain injury attorney today at (434) 977-7977.

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