Types of traumatic brain injuries caused by car accidents

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Car And Motorcycle Accidents

Every year, thousands of people suffer traumatic brain injuries as a result of car accidents. These injuries can range from mild to severe, impacting various functions of the brain and altering a person’s life significantly.

Understanding the types of TBIs and how they occur during car accidents can help those injured receive appropriate treatment and seek legal counsel if needed.


A concussion is the most common type of TBI and usually happens during a car accident when the head moves rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. Symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not appear immediately. They include confusion, headaches, dizziness and temporary loss of consciousness.


A contusion is a bruise on the brain. It appears when a direct impact to the head occurs during a car accident, such as hitting the steering wheel, dashboard or windows. Contusions can vary in size and severity, potentially leading to swelling and increased pressure inside the skull. In severe cases, surgeons may need to remove large contusions. Injured parties may need the assistance of a lawyer to help them get the compensation they deserve to cover medical and other expenses for contusions or other TBIs.

Diffuse axonal injury

This type of injury involves tearing of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers (axons) that happens when the brain shifts and rotates inside the skull. Diffuse axonal injury can disrupt the normal communication and chemical processes in the brain, leading to temporary or permanent brain damage, coma or even death. Symptoms include disorientation, nausea and loss of consciousness.

Coup-contrecoup injury

Coup-contrecoup injuries occur when the force of a blow is strong enough to cause damage at the site of impact (coup) and on the complete opposite side of the brain (contrecoup). This happens because the impact causes the brain to collide against the opposite side of the skull. These injuries often occur in car accidents where the head is thrown forward or backward suddenly.

Car accidents are a leading cause of TBIs, which highlights the importance of using seat belts, deploying airbags properly and adhering to traffic laws to reduce the risk of injury. Recognizing the symptoms of a TBI early and seeking medical attention promptly can significantly improve recovery outcomes.