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What is a brain injury?

There are a number of forms of brain injury. We tend to think of damage to the brain caused by trauma, which means direct force. A blow to the head, such as might be caused by an automobile accident, a fall, or direct contact from sports, is a common cause. Gunshots are unfortunately also frequent. The brain itself can be bruised, or damage might occur by a loss of blood supply to an area. Swelling often follows and causes further problems.
Brain trauma is usually the result of a direct blow to the head, which can bruise the brain and damage its internal tissues and blood vessels. The severity of a brain injury can range from a mild concussion to a severe injury that results in coma or even death. In a closed brain injury there is no break in the skull and the brain is jarred against the sides of the skull, shearing (or tearing) the internal lining, nerves, tissues, and blood vessels, causing bleeding, bruising, or swelling. In a penetrating or open head injury the skull is broken. The sudden and profound injury the brain sustains at the time of the accident is called the primary brain injury. It can be followed by secondary brain injury, a cascade of cellular, chemical, tissue, or blood vessel changes that evolve in the hours to days after the accident. These changes can further destroy brain tissue.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.