What is Secondary Brain Injury? – Secondary brain injury is what happens after the initial traumatic contact. In other words, if the head is struck hard enough, there may be no visible damage – or if there is seemingly minor obvious injury – but damage may have occurred inside the skull anyway.
Since the brain is so fragile, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability in the US. Nearly a quarter million people receive hospitalization because of traumatic brain injuries; nearly 50,000 people a year die. Of those who are not killed, nearly 100,000 of them sustain lifelong disabilities – many of them from secondary brain injury after what seems like a minor head injury.
Types of Secondary Injuries:
The term contre-coup describes an accident where a blow to the head causes the brain to bounce; in turn, it’s then damaged by impacting the inside of the skull. In other words, the brain suffers from acceleration, deceleration or rotation trauma inside the skull — often all from a single event involving the skull. Often times, there is no actual blow to the head at all, but the victim still has head injury. For example, shaken baby syndrome is a cause of serious brain injury where the head is never struck at all, but the brain is still injured enough to cause permanent problems.
An epidural hematoma is described as a bleeding located between the dura mater – which is the sac-like tissue around the brain — and the skull. Just like a bruised leg builds up pressure around the skin as the internal bleeding continues and then clots, a hematoma clots beneath the skull. But there is virtually no space for it to expand. Due to the lack of space, the adjacent brain tissue is compressed and the entire brain shifts its position. The pressure not only builds quickly, it tends to have extreme symptoms, such as a decreased level of consciousness, unconsciousness, end eventually, untreated, sometimes death.
A subdural hematoma is described as bleeding below the dura mater, but above the arachnoid and pia mater (pia mater forms the edge of the brain itself). Although blood flow in this area does not create as much pressure as an epidural hematoma, if the amount of bleeding is sufficient, it will cause the exact same symptoms as an epidural hematoma – meaning pressure and swelling within the skull. It also has extreme symptoms, such as a decreased level of consciousness, unconsciousness, end eventually, untreated, death.
A subarachnoid injury produces bleeding in the space beneath the arachnoid layer where the cerebra-spinal fluid is located. Since it connects to the spinal canal, pressure build-up tends not to occur, but the result is a loss of motor skills and a cascading series of problems that severely endanger the patient. It typically happens in conjunction with one of the previously mentioned injuries.
When tissue within the brain itself bleeds, swelling of the entire brain – also called edema — may occur. With any hematoma in the skull, pressure builds quickly and tends to have extreme symptoms, such as a decreased level of consciousness, unconsciousness, end eventually, untreated, death.
Often, damage to the brain comes without the benefit of bleeding in the brain. If the brain is jarred out of its proper place, even fractionally, nerve fibers within the brain can tear of stretch. Also known as ‘diffuse axonal injury.’
Any injury to the brain may cause that organ to swell inside just as a smashed thumb swells at the end of your hand. It’s natural, but in the case of the brain, it’s also very dangerous. Since the skull can’t move to accommodate the swelling – and since the skull is made of flat, lightly-marrowed bones – there’s no marrow or extra volume to be taken up. Edema becomes hazardous, not due to the actual swelling, but because there is no way for the swelling to be accommodated. Pressure from the swelling brain increases inside the skull and causes the brain to compress, provoking extreme symptoms, such as a decreased level of consciousness, unconsciousness, end eventually, untreated, death.
Delayed Symptoms are Deadly
To sum up, there are few injuries to the brain that are simple to diagnose and which can be instantly alleviated. Most brain injury is delayed. Usually, the patient gets a lot worse hours or days after the accident. So in the event on an accident where another individual or entity is responsible, an initial self-evaluation is insufficient. Emergency medical attention is required. It also means that often the initial response and financial assistance from those responsible is less than complete.
Should that be the case, you’ll need an attorney who knows brain injury and how to deal with the related hardships. That’s where experienced legal counsel will more than equalize the situation. With representation from Jimmy Doan and The Doan Law Firm, you’re assured of getting the compensation you deserve. With that, you can begin putting your life back together.
Jimmy Doan focuses on brain injury litigation and is one of his team of dedicated attorneys look forward to providing you with a consultation, advising you of all your rights and answering any questions that you may have. In that respect, Jimmy Doan or one of The Doan Law Firm’s lawyers is available for a free consultation and specialized representation all hours of the day or night at(800) 349-0000.