Human Brain Injury Anatomy
The brain weighs a lot, at least two to five pounds in some cases. It consists of a gray, jelly-like substance, called cerebrospinal fluid. The cerebrospinal fluid consists of millions of microscopic fibers. Your brain operates by sending electrically charged neuro-chemical signals through the axonal-dendric connections commonly referred to as synapses.
If human brain tissue is impacted by a jolt or strike, your axonal-dendric connections could break apart, or become severely damaged. Here, Michael Ehline tells us all what we need to know to identify and treat a brain injury.
Most Common Causes of Brain Damage
Vehicular accidents involving passenger automobiles are by far the major cause of skull, head and brain injury in California. Most people realize harm can happen due to a blow or strike to the head. This could be an impact from falling off a bicycle and hitting the asphalt with force, or from a spill on a motorcycle. Often it results from crashing into a windshield during a car accident. Even without an impact, the g-forces of an impact can cause your brain to go from sudden acceleration to sudden deceleration. This is exactly what occurs in a whiplash event.
So even without blunt trauma to your head, you can still suffer a head injury. In fact, a lot of brain injuries are directly related to tearing of the brain, and unrelated to a hit on the head. The whiplash event can cause the brain to bleed, can create bruising and twisting of brain matter. It could happen during the impact, or as the brain matter and tissue swells up. Afterwards you think you’re fine, but you’re not.
Your brain stem is what connects your spinal cord to your brain, which in turn sends signals to your vital organs like your heart, and lungs and controls natural survival functions, from adrenaline, heart beat, urination, breathing, consciousness, fear and hunger. Although your skull and the fluid therein helps protect your brain, the cranium is not extremely thick, and is not padded on the inside. In fact, just the opposite is true. The inside of your cranium is ribbed with bony structures.
So if there is a sudden back and forth or side to side movement of your head, the human brain can bang or collide into the skull’s internal ribbing. Depending upon the circumstances of the jolting event, this can literally mess up a victim’s life forever. This is because often there are often resultant bruised or damaged lobes that become permanently harmed.
Connected to these lobes is the internal cortex. This tender area in the middle of your brain, is responsible for the majority of thoughts and analysis. There are 4 lobes traveling to your cortex, along with 2 hemispheres: the right and the left. These lobes can be damaged from intentional, voluntary activities like mixed martial arts, as well as from unintentional activities like motor vehicle collisions.
Your left hemisphere is typically the most dominant portion of your brain. It is responsible for controlling your ability to talk, read, write, or do mathematical calculations for that matter. The right side of your brain is responsible for visual-spatial functions like musical rhythm. It is also responsible for the ability to draw, and other visual memories associated with computing, programming and drawing things.
Your frontal lobe is often the one that is injured from motor vehicle accidents. This is due to most crashes being rear enders, resulting in the front and rear vehicles pushing forward with force, and stopping rapidly. This banging and snapping effect can drive an internal impact right into the front of your skull. This holds true regardless of whether or not the head itself actually makes contact with an immovable, external object.
The frontal lobe is known for controlling emotions and characteristics such as your very personality. It is easy to see how a belted occupant in the forward vehicle can sustain a bad injury that alters his or her personality, and harms their emotional health. This is another reason why people in any type of vehicle wreck should immediately seek medical care. You must rule out brain tears or bruised lobes at a minimum.
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Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) may significantly cause damages one’s cognitive, physical, mental and psychological skills. Physical deficits can include ambulation, loss of balance, coordination, fine motor skills, strength, and endurance. Cognitive deficits of language and communication, information processing, memory, and loss of perceptual skills are common. Psychological status is also often changed as well. Adjustment to disability issues are frequently encountered by people with TBI. Brain injuries can occur in many ways.
TBI typically results from accidents in which the head strikes an object. This is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. However, others, such as those caused by insufficient oxygen, poisoning, or infection, can cause similar deficits.
An anoxic brain injury is the type of head injury that is known for interrupting blood flow to and from your brain. Anoxic brain injuries are sometimes caused by a lack of oxygen to your brain, such as drowning, swelling or bleeding of the brain tissues. These too are typical of side to side impacts so often associated with bad collisions or impacts to a person’s head.
Contrecoup injuries take place as a result of the jarring side to side impact. These are often associated with people walking in the public cross-walks and getting struck by the front end of an oncoming car. This internal jarring causes the brain to be propelled against both sides of your skull, rebounding and crashing into the opposite sides of the cranium. A contrecoup injury is the ultimate result of exactly this type of event.
An epidural hematoma is from a blood clot forming between your skull and the inner, upper lining of your brain known as your “dura.” A blood clot in that area of your head causes many pressure changes in your brain. This can result in the medical necessity of emergency surgery in order to effectuate emergency repairs and eliminate the clotting. This is a common injury seniors will suffer as patients in hospitalized environments. In fact, this can often be the nexus of an elder abuse lawsuit. Care providers can often mitigate or eliminate the risks of clotting in many dependent patients.
Contusions and concussions take place when your external skull, and/or brain gets bruised. This is usually a result of the brain hitting and impacting on the inside of your cranium. This type of injury creates many symptoms. These can range from dizziness, seeing stars, mild headaches, severe headaches, loss, or lack of memory and loss of concentration.
A simple concussion can even create lifetime consequences that could require lifetime medical care. An example would be a helmeted motorcyclist who falls from his bike. He slams his head into the curb, breaking open his padded helmet. Although he may survive, the impact could still be enough to damage the brain. This is also the case with bad sports injuries like those common in boxing and the hard tackles of pro U.S. football.
As a general rule, if you are struck in the head, see stars, or feel vertigo, get stabilized, and get to the hospital. You must mitigate your injuries to the best of your abilities. Act reasonably and seek professional help. Rule out things like potential blood clots that could kill you.
Diffuse Axonal Injury is a brain injury that is associated most closely with the rotation and disruption of your brain within the cranium. This can cut away, shear or sever the brain axons, which are connecting nerve fibers. Damage such as this is typically difficult to analyze. It is also accompanied by microscopic tears that are difficult to locate from the get go.
If your case is diagnosed as a “mild brain injury” you may notice that the injuries heal over time. But often, a DAI can cause permanent disabilities from loss of consciousness to lifetime coma. Eventually a fatality could be the nexus of a future wrongful death claim in civil court and even a murder case in criminal court.
Currently, medical science has not discovered a methodology to treat diffuse axonal injuries. But medical experts have discovered in some studies that the damage to axons occur in the first 12 to 24 hours after the head impact. Many are confident that modern advances in science will be able to treat and/or slow down or stop the injury from progressing. These people believe that medications and other therapy and/or surgery will cure or minimize the damage. So far we have seen some success stories as science and medicine advances.
We hear remarkable stories about Scorpion Venom and other new treatments for damaged brains all the time. For now, however, an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. So be careful out there.
Skull fractures are caused when the bone in your head, or cranium fractures, or cracks like an egg shell. A skull fracture normally mends itself over time. But often the tissue inside the fracture zone gets injured or damaged. This will typically require surgery to repair the fractured armor.
Subdural hematomas are caused from blood clots forming in between your brain tissue and your dura. A hematoma can happen in many ways. It could arise slowly, over a few weeks or days. This is called a subdural hematoma. It could also strike fast, which is known as an acute subdural hematoma. As with all sufferers of blood clots you could easily be a candidate for emergency surgery as a corrective measure.
Feel free to browse our educational brain injury materials.