When Traffic Accidents Result in Closed Head Injuries

Closed head injuries may cause brain damageIf you were told that you or a loved one suffered a closed head injury following a car accident, you may want to understand more about it. Any type of head injury is frightening since the brain controls our ability to move, think, concentrate, connect with others, and communicate. But not all closed headed brain injuries cause disabling injuries. In fact, according to BrainLine.org, only 15 percent of people with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) have life-long challenges and difficulties as a result of trauma to their brain. However, if you or a loved one is among the percentage of people that are left to deal with the symptoms of a closed head injury, this statistic isn’t just a number—it’s reality.

Understanding Closed Head Brain Injuries

Although the brain is delicate, it is surrounded and protected by a hard skull. The skull generally protects against things penetrating the brain, which is why the majority of head injuries suffered in car accidents are more often closed head injuries than open head injuries. In a closed head injury, the skull is not broken, but the brain is still impacted.

Below the skull are membranes and layers of tissue that help keep the brain from moving around too much, but in a violent car crash, the brain may slam against part of the skull and bounce back and forth against the walls of the skull. This often occurs when a person’s head is suddenly forced to stop in an auto accident after moving at a high speed.

Types of Closed Head Injuries

When the head moves in this way or suffers a blow, brain tissues can bruise, blood vessels can be torn, and swelling in the brain and pressure within the skull can occur. As a result, a person in a car accident can suffer different types of closed head injuries, including:

  • Concussion. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, a concussion is the most common type of a traumatic brain injury. A concussion is usually caused by a blow or jolt to the head. But even whiplash or violent shaking of the head in traffic accidents can cause the brain to bounce around in the skull and lead to a concussion. While some concussions are mild and temporarily affect normal brain function, a concussion is still a type of TBI that can be very serious.
  • Hematoma. When the brain is forced against the walls of the skull, bleeding can occur which can cause a pool of blood to collect between the brain and the skull. This is known as a hematoma, which can put pressure on the brain and cause it to swell—requiring immediate medical intervention.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury. When a person’s head whips around in a crash, it can cause small tears called shearing in the brain that affects nerve fibers (also known as axons).  Because axons transmit messages from one neuron to another, injuries to axons can cause a disruption in nerve communication and permanent nerve damage throughout the brain can occur. When neurons are damaged or don’t function normally, people may end up in a coma.

While some closed head injuries (such as a minor concussion) may heal in time with little to no treatment needed, some brain injuries may require surgery to stop bleeding and reduce swelling on the brain. Although nothing penetrates the skull in a closed head injury, closed headed injuries can be just as serious as open head injuries—resulting in life-altering effects, such as:

  • Thinking difficulties
  • Communication problems
  • Behavioral issues
  • Personality changes
  • Emotional problems
  • Vision loss
  • Physical limitations
  • Concentration issues
  • Overall cognitive difficulties

Because the effects of a closed head injury can be permanent, ongoing medical care and rehabilitation are often required from physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and other medical professionals. Because the expenses associated with brain injury rehabilitation can be costly, it is important that victims of brain injuries talk to lawyers who have experience in personal injury law and who understand how a person’s life can drastically be impacted by a brain injury. We have that experience, and our law firm welcomes your phone call and will answer your questions in a free consultation.