| Read Time: 7 minutes | Car Accident
Common Types of Brain Injuries After an Auto Accident

Brain injuries after an auto accident are, unfortunately, far too common.

According to the  most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 69,000 deaths in the United States are caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually.

Additionally, motor vehicle collisions are one of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries in the nation.

So, what does that mean for those involved in an accident?

While the chance of experiencing a brain injury in a car accident is high, the injuries vary widely from mild to severe.

To help understand these injuries and their consequences, our experienced Atlanta, Georgia brain injury lawyers put together a list of common brain injuries from car accidents.

These include:

  • Coup injuries, 
  • Contrecoup injuries, 
  • Coup-contrecoup injuries, 
  • Skull fractures, 
  • Concussions, 
  • Contusions, 
  • Hematomas, 
  • Hemorrhages,
  • Diffuse axonal injuries (DAIs), and 
  • Edema. 

At MG Law, we know that sustaining a brain injury in a car crash can be catastrophic. You shouldn’t have to battle with insurance companies and the at-fault driver while trying to heal. Fortunately, you can turn to one of our seasoned lawyers for help pursuing your car accident claim.

Contact us online or call (770) 988-5252 today for a free consultation.

10 Most Common Types of Brain Injuries from Car Accidents

Read on for details about these injuries and the distinctions between them. You should get medical treatment immediately if you have symptoms consistent with one of these injuries after an accident.

1. Coup Injury

A coup injury is one of the most common types of brain injuries after an auto accident. It refers to damage to the area of the brain where there was a direct impact, typically with the skull.

For example, if a car hits you from the side, your head may be knocked to the side and hit your window. Your brain will also move towards the window and collide with your skull. The damage to the brain from it hitting the inside of your skull is a coup injury.

Coup injuries are known as closed-head injuries because the skull remains intact. In contrast, in an open head injury, something pierces or cracks the skull. 

2. Contrecoup Injury

A contrecoup injury refers to damage to the part of the brain opposite to the site of trauma. It often takes place due to a rear-end collision. When a car hits a driver from behind, it can cause a person’s brain to hit the inside of the front of their skull. 

Symptoms range from headaches, confusion, and dizziness to more severe issues like unconsciousness and seizures.

Over the long term, patients may face cognitive impairments, emotional disturbances, sensory and motor skill issues, and an increased risk of neurological disorders. Recovery from such injuries varies greatly, involving medical treatment, therapy, and support, with outcomes ranging from significant recovery to long-term disabilities.

Ultimately, brain damage in a car accident, even after a contrecoup injury, depends on the specifics of the crash.

3. Coup-Contrecoup Injury

In the case of a coup-contrecoup injury, there is damage to two different parts of the brain. The brain sustains damage in the location where the head directly impacts an object and on the opposite side. Essentially, the brain moves back and forth inside the skull, causing damage to both sides.

Frequently, this happens when a person’s head collides with the steering wheel. This double-sided injury can also take place due to a high-speed car crash.

Symptoms of a coup-contrecoup brain injury include:

  • Ringing in the ears, 
  • Light sensitivity, and 
  • Vision problems. 

Such an injury can cause a person to need significant medical care

The care often includes physical, occupational, and speech therapy and surgical interventions to manage complications and facilitate long-term recovery.

4. Skull Fractures

Another common brain injury from a Georgia car accident is a skull fracture. You have eight cranial bones, any of which can break if your head collides with an object in a serious collision. This might occur if something enters the vehicle during the accident, hitting or piercing your skull. It can also occur if your head slams into a window or the dashboard with enough force.

There are various potential skull fractures that a person might sustain.

Some of these include:  

  • Open skull fractures, 
  • Closed skull fractures, and 
  • Linear skull fractures. 

The circumstances of your accident will affect the type of skull fracture you may experience.

For example, a linear skull fracture may happen in car accidents involving lower-speed collisions or when the head strikes against a relatively flat surface inside the vehicle, such as the headrest or window.

5. Concussion

A concussion is often the result of the person’s head colliding with the steering wheel, window, or dashboard. Due to the intense force of a crash, the person’s brain pushes against the front and back of their skull.

Some potential symptoms include:

  • The loss of consciousness, 
  • Headaches or migraines, and 
  • Changes in mood. 

A concussion can affect your motor skills and brain function. Thus, a person with a concussion may experience symptoms like loss of balance or slurred speech.

Even though concussions are considered as mild traumatic brain injuries, they might still result in long-term complications. It’s crucial to get treatment even if you only suspect that you have a mild brain injury. 

6. Contusion

A contusion is a bruise on the brain. It can cause swelling in the brain and bleeding at the site of injury. A direct blow to the head in a car accident can cause a contusion.

Signs of a contusion might include:

  • Trouble concentrating, 
  • Difficulty speaking, or 
  • Dilated pupils. 

Your physician can help you diagnose a contusion and determine the necessary treatment. For instance, patients sometimes need to undergo surgery to repair the contusion. 

7. Hematoma

A hematoma takes place when there is a pooling of blood outside of a blood vessel. In a traumatic brain injury (TBI), this typically means there’s a collection of blood inside the skull. There are three different kinds of brain-related hematomas that a person might experience from an accident.

These are:

  • Epidural hematomas,
  • Subdural hematomas, and
  • Intracerebral hematomas.

Decompression surgery may be necessary for a severe hematoma. However, some patients only need medicine and rest. Depending on the severity, this injury can result in a coma or death if not treated. 

8. Hemorrhages

A hemorrhage refers to bleeding in the brain. Individuals can experience numerous types of brain hemorrhages.

Several brain hemorrhage types a person may sustain include the following:

  • Intracerebral hemorrhages,
  • Intraventricular hemorrhages, and
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhages.

You will likely undergo a computerized tomography (CT) scan or other procedure to determine the extent of your injuries. Understanding what kind of hemorrhage you may have is important for determining the appropriate medical treatment. 

9. Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)

A DAI occurs when the brain’s nerve fibers, or axons, suffer damage. This injury frequently takes place in acceleration-deceleration accidents and can cause tremendous complications. A DAI could result in a coma or permanent brain damage. 

There are multiple possible signs of a DAI after a car crash. Symptoms may include: 

  •  A loss of consciousness,
  • Diminished balance,
  • Headaches, or 
  • Confusion.

Symptoms vary depending on the category of DAI you have experienced. 

Many other symptoms are possible based on the level of axonal shearing. The area of the brain that has sustained damage will also impact your symptoms. 

Treatment plans can also vary. They might involve speech therapy, physical therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

10. Edema

Another type of brain injury after a car accident is cerebral edema. Cerebral edema refers to swelling in the brain. It can be life-threatening. 

Some symptoms of cerebral edema include the following:

  • Nausea,
  • Headaches,
  • Memory loss, and
  • Incontinence.

Immediate treatment is necessary to avoid long-term brain damage or death. Seek help from a qualified healthcare professional if you believe you may have cerebral edema.   

How the Rehabilitation Process Varies Between Traumatic Brain Injuries

The rehabilitation process for brain injuries varies significantly with the type and severity of the injury. For mild TBIs, such as concussions, rehabilitation may focus on short-term strategies for managing symptoms and gradually returning to daily activities. 

Contrast this with the intensive, long-term rehabilitation required for a more severe car accident brain injury. In this case, therapies aim to help the patient relearn basic movements, improve muscle strength, regain mobility, and manage cognitive issues. However, a full recovery isn’t always possible.

Physical Therapy

Due to the difference in the extent of brain damage and the resulting physical impairments, mild TBI has a shorter recovery time. In mild TBI cases, physical therapy may focus on short-term treatment to gradually restore normal physical activities. The therapy is often less intensive and may last for a shorter time, with many patients experiencing a quick return to their pre-injury level of function. 

Conversely, severe TBI often requires a more comprehensive and long-term physical therapy approach. The approach may include intensive sessions focused on relearning basic movements, strengthening muscles, and improving coordination. In the case of significant physical impairments, physical therapy for severe TBI sometimes requires the use of adaptive equipment or techniques to compensate for lost abilities. 

Speech Therapy

Not all mild brain injuries result in difficulties with speech. However, those that do require exercises to improve cognitive-communication skills and strategies to enhance memory. 

In contrast, for those with severe TBI, speech therapy is often more intensive and long-term, addressing significant impairments in speech, language, cognition, and swallowing. Therapists work to rebuild foundational communication skills, employ alternative communication methods if necessary, and implement strategies to manage severe cognitive deficits. The therapy may also involve exercises to improve swallowing and prevent choking, which is a common concern in severe cases.

Neuropsychological Support

Neuropsychological support for individuals with TBI often focuses on addressing temporary cognitive disruptions. This support might include strategies for coping with short-term memory issues, attention deficits, and managing the psychological impact of the injury, such as frustration or anxiety related to the recovery process. 

In contrast, for severe TBI from a car accident, neuropsychological support is more comprehensive. Interventions may include extensive cognitive rehabilitation to improve memory, executive function, and other skills. The rehabilitation is usually paired alongside psychotherapy to address mood disorders, personality changes, and social integration issues.

Medical Follow-Up

Future medical follow-ups or surgeries for patients recovering from most common brain injuries from car accidents depend on injury severity. For those with mild traumatic brain injuries, follow-ups tend to be short-term and focused on symptom resolution. 

In contrast, patients with severe brain injuries may require ongoing medical follow-ups to manage chronic symptoms. These follow-ups might include a range of specialists, such as neurologists, rehabilitation therapists, and neuropsychologists, to provide comprehensive care. Additionally, surgeries may be necessary later on to correct or alleviate long-term complications, such as the accumulation of fluid in the brain or skull deformities.

Contact Our Georgia Brain Injury Attorneys for Help

After an automobile accident, particularly one involving a severe injury, you need a compassionate lawyer who will fight for you. If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury after a car crash, MG Law can help you. Our attorneys understand medical terminology and can help you bring a successful claim. We can assist you with recovering compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. 

At MG Law, our practice areas include car wreck claims, truck accident claims, bicycle collision claims, and other personal injury claims. Contact our office online or call (770) 988-5252 today for a free consultation.

Author Photo

Michael Geoffroy’s law practice focuses on auto collisions, premises liability, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury. He stands up for the cause of justice throughout Georgia and on behalf of his clients every day. He is a leader in both the courtroom and the community, having been recognized numerous times for his involvement in each.