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A CT of the head years after a traumatic brain injury showing an empty space where the damage occurred marked by the arrow.

A brain injury is an injury to the brain of a living organism, and can be categorized by many properties. Primary and secondary brain injuries identify the processes involved, while focal and diffuse brain injury describe the severity and localization.


Types of brain injuryEdit

Traumatic brain injuryEdit

A traumatic brain injury is an alteration of a structural, physiological, or chemical transmitter pathway as well as other brain pathology, and is caused by an external force. A post-traumatic brain injury is the alteration of the neurological function by the traumatic event. Multiple traumatic injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy.


A concussion is the most common type of brain trauma, and can be caused by direct damage to the head, gunshot wounds, violent shaking of the head (very common in children), or force from a whiplash type injury. A concussion occurs when the brain receives trauma from an impact or a sudden momentum or movement change. The blood vessels in the brain may stretch, and cranial nerves may be damaged.


A contusion can be caused by direct damage to the head, when a bruise results in bleeding in the brain.

Coup-contrecoup injuryEdit

A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when the force impacting the head is not only strong enough to cause a contusion at the site of impact but also able to move the brain and cause it to slam into the opposite side of the skull, which causes an additional contusion.

Diffuse axonal injuryEdit

A diffuse axonal injury can be caused by a strong shake on the head, as in "shaken baby syndrome", or by rotational forces, such as a car accident. Injury occurs when the brain lags behind the movement of the skull and causes the brain structures to tear. The tearing of nerve tissue disrupts the brain's communication and chemical processes. This disturbance in the brain could cause brain damage or death. There are specific areas where connections can be broken within the brain substance that are indicative of a diffuse axonal injury.

Locked in syndromeEdit

Locked-in syndrome is a rare neurological condition wherein the patient is unable to physically move any part of the body except the eyes. The patient is still conscious and able to think.

Penetrating injuryEdit

A penetrating injury occurs when a sharp object enters the brain, causing a large damage area. Penetrating injuries caused by bullets have a 91 percent mortality rate.

Acquired brain injuryEdit

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth and therefore isn't hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma.

Anoxic brain injuryEdit

An anoxic brain injury occurs when the human brain doesn’t receive oxygen. Cells in the brain begin to die due to lack of oxygen.

Hypoxic brain injuryEdit

Hypoxic brain injury happens when the brain receives insufficient oxygen. A hypoxic brain injury, also called stagnant hypoxia, is caused by a reduction in blood flow or low blood pressure leading to a lack of blood flow to the brain.

Treatments and drugsEdit

Traumatic brain injuryEdit

The treatment for emergency traumatic brain injuries focuses on making sure the patient has enough oxygen, blood supply and on trying to maintain normal blood pressure to avoid further injuries of the head or neck. The patient may need surgery to remove clotted blood or repair skull fractures, for which cutting a hole in the skull is sometimes necessary. The medicines that are usually used for traumatic injuries are Diuretics, Anti-seizure or Coma-inducing drugs. Diuretics reduce the fluid in tissues lowering the pressure on the brain. In the first week after a traumatic brain injury, patients can have a risk of seizures, which anti-seizure drugs help prevent. Coma-inducing drugs may be used during the surgery to reduce the oxygen flow required.

Common problems after brain injuryEdit

Brain injuries have far-reaching and varied consequences due to the nature of the brain as the main source of bodily control.

Patients commonly experience issues with memory. This can be issues with either long or short term memories depending on the location and severity of the injury. Sometimes memory can be improved through rehabilitation although it can be permanent.

Brain injury can also affect muscle control and coordination ranging from difficulty writing to being unable to perform basic bodily functions such as swallowing or coughing.

Behavioral and personality changes are also commonly observed due to changes of the brain structure in areas controlling hormones or major emotions.

Headaches and pain can also occur as a result of a brain injury either directly from the damage. or due to neurological conditions stemming from the injury.

Due to the changes in the brain as well as the issues associated with the change in physical and mental capacity, depression and low self-esteem are common side effects that can be treated with psychological help. Antidepressants must be used with caution in brain injury patients due to the potential for undesired effects because of the already altered brain chemistry.


"About Brain Injury." Brain Injury Association of America. National Brain Injury information center, 12 Oct. 2012. Web. 2 Mar 2016.

“Traumatic Brain Injury.” MAYO CLINIC. 15 May 2014. Web. 4 March 2016.


"What Is Acquired Brain Injury?" Brain Injury Hub. The Children's Trust, 4 Jan. 2016. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.

Barth, Jeffrey. "Child Brain Versus Adult Brain with TBI." BrainLine Kids. BrainLine, 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.

External linksEdit