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Understanding the Different Types of Brain Injury

Dec 7, 2022 3:53:20 PM

Every year, about 1.5 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury. Of these, about 230,000 are hospitalized.

Traumatic brain injuries happen when an external force impacts the brains function. Treatment for these injuries is complex. That is because there are many different types of brain injury.

Inside The Brain

Understanding the basics of each can help us get a better grasp of how they impact individuals who are affected. The information below covers the main categories of traumatic brain injury. It lays out the causes and symptoms of each, so you can better determine the appropriate treatments for each.


Concussions are one of the most common and well-known types of brain injury (TBI). They receive a lot of media attention in part due to their prevalence among American football players.

Concussions happen when the brain strikes the internal walls of the skull. This often results from an abrupt blow or bump to the head, or a jolt to the body that causes the head to move back and forth suddenly.


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Concussions are very serious. Mild ones are usually not life-threatening but can cause slurred speech, weakness, nausea, convulsion, seizures, and unusual behavior. More severe ones can lead to permanent brain injury or even death.


Edema is one of the more serious types of brain injuries. It is a swelling of the brain caused by excess fluids trapped in the tissue.


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Edema can result from the use of certain medications, during pregnancy, or from an underlying health condition. It can cause severe pressure inside the skull, as well as swelling throughout the body.

There are different treatments for edema, which correspond to its severity. It may be relieved by monitoring the amount of salt in your food. For more serious conditions, medical attention is necessary.


A hematoma is a pooling of clotting blood in the brain or empty spaces inside the skull. This is often caused by ruptured blood vessels stemming from a head injury. Hematomas (where the blood has at least begun to clot) are distinct from hemorrhages (which describe ongoing bleeding).


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Hematomas can cause a great deal of pain in the skull. Often, they resolve on their own. However, if the hematoma continues to increase, symptoms will worsen and medical attention may be necessary.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

A diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a particular type of swelling in the brain. It occurs when strong rotation or shaking of the head leads to tearing of the brain's long connecting nerve fibers, or axons.

Brain Trauma Diffuse Axonal Injury

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DAI often results in a coma and serious damage to different parts of the brain. The extent of the damage depends on the nerves that experience damage. About half of all DAI cases are serious enough to warrant hospitalization.

Learn More About the Types of Brain Injury

Now that you have some basic information about the different types of brain injury, you can better understand how to address them. The important thing is that you match treatments with the brain conditions and related symptoms of the individual.

At Power of Patients®, we understand that every brain injury is unique. Our goal is to equip individuals, parents, medical professionals, and the research community with real-world knowledge about brain health to help inform decision-making for each patient's journey. Reach out to us to learn more.

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