Acute Brain Injury - A Guide for Family and Friends
Even though the brain is well protected, it may be injured. Every injury is different. Most injuries are a result of bruising, bleeding, twisting, or tearing of brain tissue. Damage to the brain may occur at the time of injury. It may also develop after the injury due to swelling or further bleeding. Patients may have more than one type of brain injury
Contusion/Concussion: a mild injury or bruise to the brain which may cause a short loss of consciousness. It may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and problems with memory and concentration. This injury will not need surgery.
Coup/Contre-Coup: A French word that describes contusions that occur at two sites in the brain. When the head is hit, the impact causes the brain to bump the opposite side of the skull. Damage occurs at the site of impact and on the opposite side of the brain.
Epidural Hematoma: a blood clot that forms between the skull and the top lining of the brain (dura). This blood clot can cause fast changes in the pressure inside the brain. Emergency surgery may be needed. The size of the clot will determine if surgery is needed.
Subdural Hematoma: a blood clot that forms between the dura and the brain tissue. If this bleeding occurs quickly it is called an acute subdural hematoma. If it occurs slowly over several weeks, it is called a chronic subdural hematoma. The clot may cause increased pressure and may need to be removed surgically.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI): Damage to the pathways (axons) that connect the different areas of the brain. This occurs when there is twisting and turning of the brain tissue at the time of injury. The brain messages are slowed or lost. Treatment is aimed at managing swelling in the brain because torn axons can not be repaired.