What Are the Main Types of Traumatic Brain Injury?

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious and often life-changing condition caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head. There are several types of TBI, each with its own characteristics and potential outcomes, and understanding them can help guide treatment and recovery. 

If you or someone you know has suffered a TBI after a preventable accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. In this blog, the San Francisco personal injury lawyers at the Scott Carr Law Firm explain the main types of traumatic brain injury, their treatment and probable impact on your life, and how an experienced TBI attorney can help you get the financial settlement or verdict you deserve.

Traumatic Brain Injury Defined

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of injury that occurs when an external force damages the brain. This can happen due to a blow or jolt to the head, a penetrating injury, or exposure to blast forces. 

The severity of a TBI can range from mild, with temporary symptoms such as headaches or dizziness, to severe, with long-lasting or even permanent damage to the brain. According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, around 2.5 million people experience traumatic brain injuries every year, with roughly 50,000 of these cases resulting in fatalities and over 80,000 causing permanent disabilities.

Common causes of TBI include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents

Treatment for a TBI typically involves medical care, rest, and rehabilitation to help the person recover as fully as possible. If the injury is especially severe, they may require lifelong support and medical care.

Measuring the Severity of Traumatic Brain Injury

The severity of a traumatic brain injury is typically measured using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), a standardized assessment tool used to evaluate a person’s level of consciousness after a TBI. It is composed of three categories: 

  • Eye-opening
  • Verbal response
  • Motor response

Each category is scored from 1 to 5 or 6, depending on the specific response. Based on the total score, TBI can be classified into three categories: mild (score of 13-15), moderate (score of 9-12), and severe (score of 3-8). A higher score indicates a better prognosis and a lower likelihood of long-term disability.  That said, even a TBI with a higher score can result in lifelong, debilitating symptoms.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

There are different types of traumatic brain injury, each with its own characteristics and potential outcomes. One common way to categorize them is by whether the injury is open or closed. 

Closed Brain Injuries

Closed brain injuries occur when the skull isn’t penetrated but the brain tissue is still damaged due to a sudden and violent movement of the head. They have a variety of causes, including falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports-related injuries.

Types of closed brain injuries include:

  • Concussion: A concussion occurs when a blow to the head or body causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth within the skull.  This may occur even if there is no direct external impact on the head.  The movement of the brain within the skull can cause chemical changes in the brain and damage to brain cells. Symptoms of a concussion may include headache, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
  • Contusion: A contusion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head or by sudden acceleration and deceleration forces that cause the brain to shift inside the skull. This shift can lead to bruising, bleeding, and damage to the brain tissue. Contusions can occur both at the site of impact and on the opposite side of the brain due to a rebound effect. The severity of a contusion can vary depending on the location, size, and extent of the injury and may result in various physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI): Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) is a severe closed brain injury resulting from quick acceleration or deceleration forces that shift and twist the brain inside the skull, damaging the axons, which are the long, thin extensions of the nerve cells that transmit messages throughout the brain. This can lead to physical, cognitive, and emotional impairment, loss of consciousness, and coma.

Closed brain injuries can sometimes be detected through medical imaging such as CT scans and MRIs.  However, these types of medical imaging very often will not detect a TBI even when it is present.  The fact that a CT scan or MRI is “negative” does not mean there is no TBI.

Treatment for closed brain injuries may include medication to manage symptoms, rest and rehabilitation to help the brain heal, and in some cases, surgery to remove blood clots or relieve pressure on the brain. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if a closed brain injury is suspected, as prompt diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of a successful recovery.

Open Brain Injuries

Open brain injuries occur when a break in the skull exposes the brain. They can result from various causes, including gunshot wounds, stabbings, and blunt-force trauma to the head.

There are two main types of open brain injuries:

  • Penetrating Injuries: A penetrating injury occurs when an object penetrates the skull and enters the brain tissue. This can cause damage to the brain tissue and surrounding blood vessels, leading to bleeding and swelling. The severity of the injury depends on the location and depth of the object that caused it.
  • Depressed Skull Fractures: A depressed skull fracture occurs when the skull breaks and a portion of the bone is pushed inwards, damaging the brain tissue. This can lead to bleeding and swelling, which can cause further damage to the brain. Depressed skull fractures can be caused by a variety of forces, including falls and motor vehicle accidents.

Symptoms of open brain injuries can vary depending on their severity and location. Mild injuries may cause symptoms such as headache and nausea, while more severe ones may result in loss of consciousness, seizures, and paralysis. Treatment may include surgery to remove the foreign object or repair the damaged skull, medication to manage symptoms and prevent infection, and rehabilitation to help the brain heal.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) occurs in the space between the brain and the thin tissues covering it. Hemorrhages in this area are often caused by ruptured cerebral aneurysms in the subarachnoid space. Other causes include head trauma, brain tumors, and blood clotting disorders.

Symptoms of subarachnoid hemorrhage can vary depending on the severity of the bleeding, but they can include: 

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures and loss of consciousness

Treatment often involves surgery to repair the ruptured aneurysm and stop the bleeding. In some cases, a procedure called endovascular coiling may be used, which involves inserting a catheter through a blood vessel in the groin and threading it up to the brain to place a coil in the aneurysm and prevent further bleeding.

Other treatments may include:

  • Medication to control blood pressure
  • Pain management
  • Rehabilitation to help the patient recover from any neurological deficits caused by the hemorrhage.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage can be a life-threatening condition, and prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential for a successful recovery. Patients who have experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage may require ongoing medical monitoring and treatment to prevent further complications.

Intracranial Hemorrhage

Intracranial hemorrhage refers to bleeding inside the skull or brain due to a ruptured blood vessel or injury to the head. It can cause an increase in pressure inside the skull, leading to serious complications such as brain damage or death. 

There are several types of intracranial hemorrhage, including:

  • Epidural Hematoma: With an epidural hematoma, bleeding occurs between the brain’s outermost layer (the dura) and the skull. It is usually caused by a skull fracture that tears an artery or vein and causes blood to collect. This buildup can put pressure on the brain and cause symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and loss of consciousness. An epidural hematoma is a medical emergency and requires prompt treatment to prevent brain damage or death.
  • Subdural Hematoma: A subdural hematoma occurs when blood collects between the dura mater (the outermost layer of the meninges) and the arachnoid mater (the middle layer) in the brain. Typically caused by a head injury, subdural hematomas can put pressure on the brain and cause symptoms such as headache, confusion, and seizures. In severe cases, they can be life-threatening, so immediate medical attention is needed.

Treatment for intracranial hemorrhage often involves: 

  • Surgery to remove the blood clot or relieve pressure within the skull. This may include a craniotomy, in which a portion of the skull is removed to access the brain, or minimally invasive procedures such as endovascular coiling or embolization.
  • Medication to control blood pressure or to manage symptoms such as pain or seizures. 

Rehabilitation and ongoing medical monitoring may also be necessary to help the patient recover from any neurological deficits caused by the hemorrhage and prevent further complications.

Getting Compensation For All Types of Traumatic Brain Injury Can Be Hard

Although a traumatic brain injury can change your life, getting the compensation you need to cover your medical and financial needs is far from straightforward. Since these cases can involve substantial settlements, insurance companies, and their counsel often try to downplay the severity of a TBI or argue that the injury was not caused by the accident in question. This can lead to disputes over liability and compensation, prolonging the legal process and causing additional stress for you and your family.

A San Francisco traumatic brain injury lawyer can provide valuable assistance in obtaining compensation for your injuries. Using their extensive knowledge of the legal system, they can navigate these complex laws and procedures on your behalf. They can also:

  • Investigate the details of your case, gather evidence, and build a strong argument for compensation. 
  • Negotiate with insurance companies and other parties involved in the case to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

With a traumatic brain injury lawyer on your side, you can have peace of mind knowing that your legal rights are being protected and that you have a strong advocate fighting for your best interests.

Don’t Delay- Get a Free Consultation From a San Francisco TBI Attorney

Traumatic brain injuries can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. Whether it’s a car accident, slip and fall, workplace accident, or any other type of incident caused by someone else’s negligence, a TBI can lead to lifelong disabilities, emotional distress, and financial hardships.

At Scott Carr Law Firm, we understand the challenges that come with a traumatic brain injury and are committed to helping victims and their families seek justice and fair compensation. Our experienced attorneys can provide guidance and legal representation to help you navigate the complex legal system and obtain the compensation you deserve. 

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation today by calling 415-799-2229. Let us help you work your way toward a stronger future.

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