Understanding Open and Closed Head Injuries & the Different Types of TBIs

chalkboard with the words traumatic brain injuryBlows to the head are often the result of slip and fall accidents, sports-related injuries, assaults, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other types of motor vehicle accidents. When someone suffers a hit to the head or a violent jolt in one of these incidents, it is likely that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) could be the result. Unfortunately, a TBI can cause brain damage and dysfunction—changing one’s life forever.

Although any type of TBI is serious and life-altering, there are different degrees of traumatic brain injuries that are categorized in the following way:

  • Mild TBI. This type of TBI is considered a minor brain injury, such as a concussion. Although not as serious as a severe TBI, a mild TBI can still cause a change in someone’s mental status and behavior. Someone with a mild TBI may look and act normal but may start becoming frustrated while performing normal work duties and household tasks. Other TBI symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, tiredness, loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and personality changes. Sometimes the effects of a mild TBI can last over a year or more.
  • Moderate TBI. This type of TBI occurs when a person loses consciousness from a few minutes to a few hours and suffers from confusion for weeks. When someone experiences a change in brain function following head trauma, he or she may have the same symptoms of a mild TBI; however, the symptoms end up getting worse instead of going away. Sadly, the behavioral, cognitive, and physical changes that result from the head injury can end up being permanent.
  • Severe TBI. When brain tissues are ripped and crushed due to violent blows and penetrating wounds to the head, a severe brain injury is likely the result. When such serious head injuries occur, medical treatment is immediately required followed by lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. Sadly, someone with a severe TBI will not be the person he or she once was prior to the injury. This is because severe traumatic brain injuries cause changes to a person’s thoughts, language, emotions, and more.

TBIs: The Result of Open and Closed Head Injuries

It is important to note that severe traumatic brain injuries can occur from both open head and closed head injuries. While the most severe head trauma is usually the result of an open head injury that penetrates the head and crushes the skull, a closed head injury can also result in a severe TBI.

Some different types of open head injuries include:

  • Depressed skull fracture: a break in a cranial bone and that bone is pressed inwards toward the brain.
  • Compound fracture: a break in skin and splintering of the bone—resulting in the brain being exposed.
  • Basilar skull fracture: the result of a fracture to the base of the skull.
  • Battle’s sign: the skull is fractured around the base—resulting in bruising behind the ear.
  • Raccoon eyes: the base of the skull is fractured—resulting in bruising around the eyes or black eyes.
  • Diastatic skull fracture: affects children under three, whose skull bones haven’t fused together. As a result, an open head injury can cause the bone junctions to widen.

Even though the skull isn’t fractured in a closed head injury, serious brain damage can still be the result due to the following factors:

  • Brain swelling. When the brain is injured, it swells. Because there is nowhere for the brain to expand due to the hard skull around it, the swelling causes pressure inside the head.
  • Pressure within the skull. When the brain swells, intracranial pressure is increased which can restrict blood flow to tissues and cause further damage to the brain.
  • Brain tissues being compressed. When bleeding inside the skull occurs, it can cause compression of the brain due to increasing pressure within the skull. Sadly, this can be life-threatening.

Because all head injuries can result in brain damage, it is critical for people who have suffered any type of head trauma to have a timely and thorough medical examination by doctors who understand brain injuries. Different types of brain injuries will require different treatments and will have different long-term outcomes.

Anyone who has suffered any type of brain injury should consult with a knowledgeable lawyer who has successfully handled brain injury cases. For a free consultation, please call us at (703) 591-0067 or fill out a short form on our Contact Us page and we will reach out to you.