Types of brain injuries after a car accident

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2024 | Personal Injury |

Car accidents can cause various types of brain injuries, which can significantly impact a person’s life.

Understanding these injuries helps in recognizing symptoms and seeking prompt medical care.


According to the NSC, in 2022, more than 2.3 million people suffered injuries due to car accidents. A concussion happens when a blow to the head or a sudden jolt shakes the brain inside the skull. Symptoms include headache, confusion, dizziness and nausea. Some individuals may also experience temporary memory loss. It is important to rest and avoid physical activities until a doctor confirms recovery.


A contusion is a bruise on the brain, resulting from direct impact to the head. The severity depends on the force of the impact. Symptoms might include cognitive changes, difficulties with coordination and speech problems. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to remove the bruised tissue.

Diffuse axonal injury

Diffuse axonal injury occurs when the brain moves rapidly inside the skull, tearing nerve fibers. This type of injury often results from high-speed car accidents. Symptoms can range from mild confusion to severe cases leading to coma. Immediate medical attention is essential to manage and treat this injury.

Penetrating brain injury

A penetrating brain injury happens when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. Car accidents involving debris or shattered glass can cause such injuries. Symptoms depend on the affected area of the brain and may include loss of function in certain body parts, severe headaches and possible seizures. Removing the object and repairing the damage usually requires surgery.

Coup-contrecoup injury

Coup-contrecoup injury occurs when the brain hits one side of the skull and then bounces back to hit the opposite side. This type of injury results from sudden stops or changes in direction, common in car accidents. Symptoms include severe headaches, confusion and difficulty with movement and speech. Treatment depends on the severity and may involve medication and physical therapy.

Second impact syndrome

Second impact syndrome can occur if a person suffers a second concussion before the first one has fully healed. This leads to rapid and severe brain swelling, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms include sudden loss of consciousness, rapid dilation of the pupils and respiratory failure. Immediate emergency medical care is necessary.

Car accidents frequently cause serious injuries. Cautious, defensive driving can decrease the risk of a crash.