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A brain injury may lead to fractures of the skull, blood clots in the brain or the space between the skull and the lining of the brain, and irreversible brain damage. Depending on the severity level, all types of brain injury may affect an individual’s personality, physical abilities, cognition and internal functions. Although all brain injuries are unique and may occur due to a number of factors, there are two major categories of brain injury:

  • Acquired Brain Injury
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury occurs when brain cells become impaired due to lack of oxygen. Acquired brain injuries are often caused by electrical shock, exposure to toxins, stroke, heart attack, brain tumors and a number of medical conditions that interfere with oxygen flow to the brain.

Unlike acquired brain injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by an external force resulting in a jolt or a blow to the head so powerful that it disrupts normal brain function. TBI may affect many parts of the brain and lead to severe brain damage. Traumatic brain injuries are classified as open (penetrating) and closed.

Open Head Injury

Open head injury occurs when an individual’s skull is penetrated by an object, such as a bullet or a knife. When the skull is broken, the delicate tissues of the brain are exposed to further harm, including infection. In addition, bone fragments from the skull may penetrate the brain and lead to severe damage, including paralysis, coma or death. However, the consequences and severity level of an open head injury depend on the type of skull fracture. The most common types of skull fractures include:

  • Linear Skull Fracture
  • Depressed Skull Fracture

A linear skull fracture is a crack in the skull, which may lead to a variety of complications. Perhaps the most serious complication is the leakage of the cerebrospinal fluid, a protective substance that circulates throughout the central nervous system located between the brain and the spine. Leakage of this fluid occurs when the skull fracture extends into the sinus cavity.

A depressed skull fracture is a “dent” in the skull and is often seen in victims who have been struck by a blunt object. Depressive skull fractures often penetrate the brain tissue and may lead to severe brain damage. Surgical intervention is usually required following this type of open head injury.

Closed Head Injury

A closed head injury is a non-invasive brain injury, which is often the result of a forceful blow to the head, including whiplash. The effects of a closed head injury that may lead to serious brain damage include brain swelling and increased intracranial pressure (ICP). There are several types of closed head injury, including:

  • Concussion – swelling of the brain
  • Brain contusion – bruising of the brain
  • Diffuse axonal injury – extensive tearing of brain tissue throughout the brain
  • Hematoma – internal bleeding or blood clots

Open head brain injuries are most frequently caused by motor vehicle accidents, firearm-related incidents, and other accidents due to another person’s reckless behavior. Car accidents account for half of all traumatic brain injury cases among individuals between 15 and 24 years old. Falls are the leading cause of brain injury among children and often occur during recreational activities. A small percentage of brain injuries among children occur due to birth trauma. Brain injury is one of the leading causes of disability and death among children in the United States. According to the Centre for Neuro Skills, more than one million children sustain a traumatic brain injury every year, and about 165,000 of those require hospitalization.

Brain Injury Consequences & Legal Help

The consequences of brain injury can severely alter an individual’s life and lead to emotional trauma, permanent disability, coma, the need for ongoing medical care, and extensive financial difficulties. When injured due to another individual’s negligence, traumatic brain injury victims often have a right to collect damages from the responsible party. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon specialize in helping brain injury victims and their families obtain the compensation they deserve.

To learn more about the possible compensation, please contact ESC’s attorneys.