Jill Kolodner | December 18, 2020 | Brain Injuries
Brain injuries may be mild, causing a few symptoms that go away within a few days or weeks. However, some brain injuries are more severe. They can have lasting symptoms and lead to long-term disabilities and impairments.
Some accident victims might not be aware that they sustained a brain injury until a few hours or days after the accident. Because some brain injuries may be difficult to diagnose, it is always good to seek medical treatment after an accident. Even minor symptoms could be an indication of a severe brain injury.
Coup vs. Contrecoup Brain Injuries
Accidents can cause different types of brain injury. During an accident, the brain can shift violently within the skull, causing bleeding, bruising, or tearing of the nerves and soft tissues. The brain may begin to swell within the skull from the trauma.
Brain damage may also occur because of a blow to the head. During an accident, a person may strike their head on an object.
For example, a driver may strike his head on the steering wheel or door frame during a car accident. A piece of debris or an object that was in the vehicle could strike a person’s head during a truck accident. During a slip and fall accident, the person might strike their head on an object or the floor.
The damage caused by the blow to the head can result in severe brain damage. Coup and contrecoup describe the location of the injury from a blow to the head.
Coup brain injuries occur directly beneath the location of the blow to the head. Contrecoup brain injuries are located directly across from the point the head was struck. The brain violently slams into the opposite side of the skull because of the force of the initial blow to the head.
Coup contrecoup injuries can be overlooked by medical professionals. The doctors focus on the area of the brain that received the initial blow. However, the opposite side of the brain could have considerable damage where the brain struck the skull.
How Are Coup Contrecoup Brain Injuries Diagnosed?
After an accident or a blow to the head, a doctor might use various tests to determine if the person sustained a coup contrecoup brain injury.
The Glasgow Coma Scale is a standard tool used to diagnose brain injuries. The scale measures a person’s verbal, motor, and eye opening responses. Lower scores indicate a severe head injury.
Doctors also evaluate any visible injuries and whether the patient is exhibiting any symptoms of a brain injury. Imaging tests, such as CT scans and MRIs, can also be useful in diagnosing brain injuries, including pinpointing the areas of the brain that sustained injuries. Doctors may also order various neuropsychological tests to assess the severity of the brain damage.
Probes are sometimes inserted into the skull to monitor the swelling. When necessary, a doctor might insert a shunt to relieve the swelling. In severe cases of brain injury, brain surgery might be required.
Potential Impairments and Disabilities Caused by Coup Contrecoup Brain Injuries
The long-term effects of coup contrecoup brain injuries depend on the severity of the injury and other factors. Some patients may fully recover from their injury, while other patients may sustain permanent impairments or disabilities because of the brain injury. Severe brain damage can cause cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments.
Some of the long-term effects associated with brain injuries include:
- Increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or other degenerative brain diseases
- Coma or vegetative state
- Chronic headaches
- Sensory problems
- Emotional and behavioral changes
- Problems with executive level functions
The cost of treating a brain injury can be high. However, the long-term costs can be even more. A person with severe brain damage may require 24/7 medical and personal care.
Family members may not be able to provide the level of care their loved one needs. A person with a coup contrecoup brain injury might require long-term assisted living or nursing home care in those situations. Individuals who recover and can live at home may not be able to work because of their injuries.
In addition to the financial damages, a brain injury causes extreme emotional distress and mental anguish. It can cause a significant decrease in a person’s quality of life and enjoyment of life.
Seeking Compensation for Damages Caused by a Coup Contrecoup Brain Injury
If another person caused your brain injury, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. Damages can include your financial losses, such as medical bills, personal care, and lost income. You may also receive compensation for your mental, physical, and emotional pain and suffering.
Filing a lawsuit can help you recover the money you need to pay for your care and living expenses as you continue to recover from a traumatic brain injury.