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Types of Brain Injury Explained

Types of Brain Injury Explained

The major types of brain injury that a person may suffer after a car crash are: (1) concussions; (2) hematomas and hemorrhages; (3) brain contusions; (4) edema; (5) skull fracture; (6) diffuse axonal injury; (7) coup-contrecoup injury; and (8) second impact syndrome.

Below I will discuss each in greater detail.

If you have suffered one of these types of brain injury after a crash, our experienced brain injury attorneys can help you protect your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, No-Fault benefits and other economic damages. Call us toll free anytime at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation or visit our contact page


A concussion occurs when a person’s brain experiences trauma due to being thrown against the front and back of the person’s skull as a result of the sudden acceleration and deceleration forces such as those that are generated by an auto accident. 

These types of injuries can cause a person to lose consciousness or to feel and appear “dazed” and unable to comprehend what is going on around them. The effects of a concussion can include: (1) headaches; (2) loss of cognitive function; (3) difficulty with concentration; (4) memory loss; (5) disorientation; and (6) temporary or permanent brain damage.

Hematoma and hemorrhage

Both hematomas and hemorrhages are very dangerous types of brain injury. They put pressure on and cause damage to a person’s brain which can result in loss of consciousness, impaired cognitive functioning and/or permanent brain damage. 

Bleeding that occurs within a person’s brain tissue is called an intracerebral hemorrhage, and bleeding that occurs between a person’s brain and skull is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. 

The gathering or clotting of the cerebral and/or intracranial blood is called a hematoma.

Brain contusion

A brain contusion is one of the types of brain injury that involve bleeding within the brain tissue and/or within the skull as a result of head trauma. The trauma could be sudden the acceleration and deceleration motion of a car crash or it could be a person’s head striking an object during an auto accident. 

Like a contusion on a person’s skin, a contusion on a person’s brain involves trauma causing blood vessels to break and leak. However, unlike a skin contusion which results in a bruise, a brain contusion can cause pressure to build on the brain, resulting in loss of consciousness and diminished cognitive functioning.

Other effects of a brain contusion include confusion, tiredness and emotional distress. 


An edema occurs when the trauma of a car crash affects a person’s brain in such a way that it causes the person’s brain to swell. This is extremely dangerous because as the brain swells the skull cannot stretch to accommodate it – resulting in damage to the brain and its tissue where they press against the skull.

Skull fracture

A skull fracture caused by a traumatic impact during an auto accident can cause damage to a person’s brain as result of the skull bones being forced into the brain tissue and/or as a result of infection at the site of the fracture. 

Diffuse axonal injury

Unlike the types of brain injury resulting from trauma-related bleeding, a diffuse axonal injury occurs when trauma from a car crash causes a person’s brain to violently shift forward and backward and/or rotate, thereby tearing the connections between the brain’s nerve fibers (axons) and the spinal cord.

The effects can range from cognitive dysfunction to brain swelling to permanent brain damage and even death.

Coup-Contrecoup Injury

These types of brain injury occur both at the site of the brain where the initial trauma occurred and at the site on the opposite side of the brain where the brain struck the skull because the force of the initial trauma was so significant that it caused the brain to be whipped about within the skull.

Second Impact Syndrome, also known as Reserve Brain Capacity

Second impact syndrome describes the dangerous and potentially deadly situation facing TBI survivors who suffer one or more of the types of brain injury in a car crash before the symptoms of their first TBI have resolved. As with other types of brain injury, physical impact is not necessary. 

Suffering a second brain injury, especially when a person has not fully healed from a first TBI, creates the potential for life-altering, catastrophic brain damage. If this happens to you, seek immediate medical attention with a skilled and experienced brain injury specialist. 

Have questions about the types of brain injury? Get answers from an experienced Michigan Brain Injury attorney now

If you have questions about the types of brain injury that you may have suffered after an auto accident and you want to know about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and No-Fault benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages, you can speak to an experienced Michigan brain injury attorney at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced TBI attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.

For more than 50 years, our lawyers have been helping people like you who have suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident. We understand the physical, emotional and psychological hardships you are experiencing from your accident. We can help.

Our law firm consistently wins record-breaking verdicts and settlements in the state on behalf of crash victims who are TBI survivors like you. Even more important than our record settlements in the state is how our attorneys treat the people we help. To see what our own clients have to say about the caring, compassion, and communication they received from us, you can read in their own words about their experience here on our testimonials page from the crash victims we have helped. You can also read about our 100% client satisfaction guarantee.

(Source: Brain Injury Association of America, “Understanding Brain Injury” page)

Types of Brain Injury