Brian White | November 4, 2021 | Brain Injury
Doctors categorize brain injuries in many ways. The type of damage, the cause of the injury, and the severity of the injury help distinguish various types of brain injuries from each other.
The different types of brain injuries can also explain the symptoms you might experience and your prognosis for recovery. These, in turn, will help you evaluate the damages you might assert in a claim for injury compensation.
Here is some information about four types of brain injuries and three levels of severity.
How Do Brain Injuries Happen?
Your brain sits inside your skull, surrounded by cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). The CSF acts as a cushion. It slows down the motion of your brain and isolates it from forces your head encounters.
Brain injuries can arise from a few different traumatic events, including:
Blunt trauma happens when you hit your head on something without penetrating the skull. Hitting your head will cause your brain to move inside your skull. If your brain moves violently enough, it will get injured.
Penetrating trauma happens when something penetrates your brain. This could happen when a foreign object, like a tool blade, breaks through your skull and enters your brain. It could also happen when a blunt object hits your skull and drives skull fragments into your brain.
Like all of your cells, your brain requires oxygen. If you stop breathing or your blood circulation gets disrupted, your brain will not receive the oxygen it needs.
Brain cells begin to die after about four minutes without oxygen. Brain death will happen about ten minutes after your brain loses its oxygen supply.
Acceleration or Deceleration of the Head
You do not need to hit your head to receive a brain injury. Rapid acceleration or deceleration of your head can cause your brain to move violently inside your skull. This rapid movement can overcome the cushioning of the CSF. Sloshing of your brain in the CSF can tear neurons, rupture blood vessels, and allow your brain to hit the inside of your skull.
Four Types of Brain Injuries
Doctors define more than four types of brain injuries. However, four common injury categories include:
Concussions happen when the brain moves inside your skull. When the brain moves through the CSF, a pressure wave forms. The pressure wave can cause minor but widespread brain damage.
As a result of this damage, your brain will experience inflammation, and you might experience symptoms such as:
- Blurred vision
- Memory loss
If the brain strikes the inside of the skull, it can bleed and bruise. This brain injury, called a contusion, produces much more serious symptoms than a concussion. A serious contusion can cause swelling in the brain that leads to coma or death.
Diffuse Axonal Injuries
When you experience rapid deceleration or acceleration, your head will whip back and forth. This whipping can cause whiplash in a car accident.
But this whipping motion can cause more than a strained neck. The long neurons in your brain, called axons, can tear apart under the stress. This causes a diffuse axonal injury (DAI).
DAIs can also happen in assaults. Another name for a DAI is “shaken baby syndrome.”
DAIs often cause severe symptoms, including permanent brain damage, coma, and death.
In a penetrating injury, an object enters the brain. This will destroy brain cells and cause bleeding and swelling. A penetrating brain injury will permanently damage the penetrated area.
The consequences of a penetrating injury will depend on the brain region damaged. Some penetrating injuries will lead to:
- Cognitive difficulties
- Memory problems
- Sensory loss
- Behavioral and emotional issues
Doctors do not have the technology to repair damaged brain tissue. The brain may remap itself around the damaged area through a characteristic called neuroplasticity. This may allow accident victims to regain some of their lost faculties.
Anoxic injuries happen when an accident deprives the brain of oxygen. Hypoxic injuries happen when the oxygen levels drop. Either situation causes brain cells to die within a few minutes.
Some accidental causes of anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries include:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Birth injury
- Severe blood loss
- Anesthesia error
- Suffocation due to crushing injury
The effects of an anoxic brain injury will vary from case to case. But a loss of consciousness and permanent brain damage will occur within minutes if the brain does not recover its oxygen supply.
Severity of Brain Injuries
Doctors use a few different scales to rate the severity of brain injuries. One of the most common is called the Glasgow Coma Scale. If you have seen an athlete take a blow to the head, you might have seen a trainer administer the Glasgow Coma Scale.
The scale uses three measures to rate the severity of a brain injury. Each measure gets a score, and the total of the three scores tells doctors whether the patient suffered a mild, moderate, or severe brain injury.
The three measures include:
- Eye opening
- Verbal response
- Physical response
If a patient loses consciousness, even briefly, doctors usually classify the brain injury as severe.
A moderate brain injury might provoke:
- Eyes opening only in response to pain or stimulus
- Incomprehensible speech
- Inappropriate responses to questions
- Movement only in response to pain or stimulus
A mild brain injury might provoke:
- Spontaneous eye opening
- Comprehensible or confused responses to questions
- Movement in response to commands
The severity of a brain injury describes the level of impairment. Doctors can use this information to restrict the patient’s activities while they recover. Doctors will also use the severity to estimate the patient’s recovery time.
Compensation for Brain Injuries
The type and severity of your brain injury will directly affect the compensation you can recover in a personal injury claim. Your injury compensation should be enough to cover your past and future medical expenses.
A severe brain injury or one with permanent brain damage will likely require future treatment, therapy, and medication. Along with other costs from your brain injury, this can mean that your compensation could be significant.
Your compensation will also cover your past and future lost income as a result of your injury. A brain injury that results in a permanent loss of faculties could have a substantial impact on your earning potential. This could entitle you to a large damage award or settlement.
To pursue adequate compensation, speak with a legal professional who can help you to evaluate the value of your case.