The Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

The Different Types of Traumatic Brain InjuryJust about any kind of serious accident can lead to a traumatic brain injury, called a TBI for short. Whether caused by a motor vehicle crash, a slip and fall, or an on-the-job accident, a brain injury can cause severe side effects and complications long after the initial incident occurred. These symptoms can include things like cognitive deficits, problems regulating emotions, and chronic pain. Generally, the more serious the TBI, the more serious the future difficulties for the patient.

The term “traumatic brain injury,” however, is more of an umbrella phrase for a variety of TBIs, categorized according to where in the brain the injury occurred, how the injury happened, and the symptoms the patient is experiencing. Not every TBI is the same – each requires a different course of treatment, and it is important you document these expenses carefully in the event of a Huntsville personal injury claim.

Traumatic brain injury defined

According to the National Library of Medicine:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result from trauma ranging from a simple blow to the head to a penetrating injury to the brain. In the United States, around 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury, with adolescents between ages 15 and 19 and adults age 65 and older among the most likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury.

They also note that, in the past, experts believed mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) like concussions were merely minor injuries with little to no future effect on a patient. However, researchers now believe even mTBIs require more intensive research and treatment, as “mild traumatic brain injury has galvanized tremendous attention for some of the adverse neuropsychological outcomes.”

Following are some of the most common traumatic brain injuries and what they entail.


A concussion is a type of TBI resulting from a jolt or blow to the head that causes the brain to bounce back and forth in the skull. This violent movement can cause the fragile tissues of the brain to stretch and tear, which damages the brain cells. As mentioned earlier, medical professionals used to believe concussions were minor injuries and did not require serious intervention. However, today concussions are recognized as a more serious TBI.

These injuries tend to happen more in sports and recreational activities, and it is vital that coaches and parents recognize the symptoms. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports the results of a five-year study of 20 high school sports and found “9,542 concussions during that time, 64% of which occurred during competition and the rest during practice. Cheerleading was the only sport with a higher rate during practice.”

One of the complications of a concussion is Post-Concussion Syndrome, or PCS. Per the Concussion Foundation, PCS is “the persistence of concussion symptoms beyond the typical course of recovery. After 1-2 months of persistent symptoms, doctors may diagnose patients with PCS.”


Contusions are bruises to the brain, resulting when the brain is jostled around in the skull. You can also experience a brain contusion with a skull fracture. Like any type of bruise, a contusion can cause swelling and bleeding in the brain, also known as an intracerebral hemorrhage.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that “intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding into the brain tissue) is the second most common cause of stroke (15-30% of strokes) and the most deadly.”

Intracranial hemorrhage

The Cleveland Clinic discusses the various types of brain bleeds, or intracranial hemorrhages. A patient can bleed in the skull but outside the brain tissue, or within the brain tissue. Bleeding can happen between any of the three membranes of the brain: the dura mater, arachnoid, or pia mater.

The three types of brain bleeds that can happen in the skull but outside the brain tissue are:

  • Epidural bleed
  • Subdural bleed
  • Subarachnoid bleed

The two types of brain bleeds that can happen within the brain tissue are:

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage

Brain bleeds can be life-threatening and, per the Clinic, “once brain cells die, they do not regenerate. Damage can be severe and result in physical, mental, and task-based disability.”

Diffuse axonal injury

Also called DAI, diffuse axonal injury is one of most serious types of brain injury. Johns Hopkins Medicine describes DAI:

Diffuse axonal injury is the shearing (tearing) of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers (axons) that happens when the brain is injured as it shifts and rotates inside the bony skull. DAI usually causes coma and injury to many different parts of the brain. The changes in the brain are often microscopic and may not be evident on computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

This type of profound injury can happen during a car accident, an assault (like a gunshot), or a serious fall.

How do doctors diagnose serious brain injuries?

Because most traumatic brain injuries are invisible, closed injuries – meaning they are not immediately noticeable – anyone who experiences a jolt or blow to the head in an accident should receive prompt medical attention (children especially, who often cannot verbalize their symptoms). Neurologists and other medical professionals use the following methods to diagnose a serious brain injury:

  • Physical and verbal exam
  • Digital imaging, including X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs
  • Neurophysiological tests
  • Blood tests, in some instances (to look for certain markers)
  • Assessments using the universal Glasgow Coma Scale

Post-diagnosis, the TBI patient’s medical team can get started on a personalized course of treatment. Depending on the type of brain injury, its severity, and the patient’s age and overall health, this treatment could last weeks, months, or the rest of their life.

As your attorneys, the team at Martin & Helms works to ensure that you secure compensation for all of your expenses – not just for your injuries now, but for how they will continue to affect you in the future. When another’s negligent actions cause you or a loved one to suffer a traumatic brain injury, let us help. Our lawyers understand how to navigate the personal injury process and we want to advocate for the wrongfully harmed.

To set up a free consultation with an experienced member of our team, call our Huntsville or Decatur offices or fill out our contact form today. We also serve clients and families throughout North Alabama.