Blunt force trauma to the head explained

blunt force trauma to the head

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A blunt force trauma to the head can cause more serious problems than just an invisible bump or bruise.

It describes any situation where a person’s head comes into contact with another object. Even if the injuries are not visible at first, if symptoms appear, it is important to monitor your condition closely.

What is Blunt Force Trauma?

A blunt force head injury is the result of direct contact of the skull with an object. This is also known as a closed head injury because there is something inside the skull that exerts enough force to shake the brain.

Head injury is the most common cause of death in blunt force trauma. The severity of the damage depends mainly on the size of the object and the speed of the impact.

Blunt force trauma is different from penetrating trauma, where an object pierces the skull, causing an open wound.

Causes of blunt force trauma

Falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports injuries are the three leading causes of blunt force head injuries.


The National Safety Council estimates that 3 million older adults are treated in the emergency department for falls each year. Adults 65 and older are at higher risk of falling due to vision problems and decreased balance and strength.

Car accidents

Car accidents are often associated with sudden deceleration from high speed. These types of concussions cause your brain to rapidly move back and forth inside your skull, causing serious injury.

In most car accidents, your head makes contact with another object or surface, whether it’s your steering wheel or the dashboard. Airbags cannot be relied upon to protect you from hazards.

Sports injuries

Those who play sports are prone to head injuries.

Any blow to the head causes a rapid back and forth movement that can damage brain tissue. This damage can affect how well brain cells communicate with each other.

Although not usually life-threatening, any type of severe blow to the head requires medical attention.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

Blunt force trauma to the head can often lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI is an injury that affects brain function. Blunt force trauma can result in mild, moderate, or severe brain injury.

In the past year, there were 69,473 TBI-related deaths in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability and death in adults.

When there is a strong force in the brain, it often swells. Increased intracranial pressure (the space between the brain and skull) can block blood flow to the brain. If the brain does not receive enough blood flow, brain function becomes impaired as brain cells begin to die.

Common TBI injuries associated with blunt force trauma

When someone suffers a TBI, there is a primary and a secondary injury. The primary injury is the initial blow to the head. People with head injuries are also prone to secondary injuries. Secondary trauma is the body’s response to the initial trauma.

Primary injuries

Skull fracture

A skull fracture is a fracture of the skull. There are four types of skull fractures, including:

  • Linear skull fracture: This is the most common type of skull fracture. In a linear skull fracture, there is a break in the bone, but it does not move the bone.
  • Depressed Skull Fracture: A type of fracture in which the skull is sunken as a result of head trauma. A depressed skull fracture may require surgery.
  • Diastatic skull fracture: A type of fracture that usually occurs in newborns and older infants. This type of fracture occurs along the suture lines of the skull.
  • Basilar skull fracture: The most serious type of skull fracture. A basilar skull fracture is a fracture of the bone at the base of the skull. Symptoms include bruising around the eyes and bruising behind the ears. Patients with this type of skull fracture usually require close observation in the hospital.

Symptoms of a skull fracture include headache, confusion, and pain or tenderness at the site of impact.


A contusion is basically a bruise to the brain and is most common in children. Bruising can occur when small blood vessels are crushed, causing bleeding and swelling.

Symptoms range from mild to severe and may include difficulty understanding speech, difficulty speaking, memory problems, and difficulty coordinating movements.

Contusion can cause an intracranial hematoma. An intracranial hematoma is classified as a secondary injury because it usually develops days or weeks after a head injury.


A concussion is a low-velocity injury that temporarily disrupts brain function. This is caused by a strong shaking of the head.

In some concussions, a person may lose consciousness. Common symptoms include headache, memory loss, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.


A laceration is a rupture of brain tissue or brain vessels. It takes more physical force to cause a fracture than a contusion. Not all wounds are visible.

Common symptoms include loss of consciousness, persistent headache, repeated vomiting, seizures, and convulsions.

Diffuse axonal injury

Diffuse axonal injury – tearing of nerve fibers in the white matter of the brain. It is caused by a violent head jolt or rotation that can occur in a car accident.

Symptoms may include confusion, headaches, sleep problems (insomnia or sleeping longer than usual), and dizziness.

Secondary injuries

  • Hypoxia: Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Brain tumor: Swelling of the brain
  • Increased intracranial pressure (ICP): increased pressure in the space between the brain and skull, which can cause parts of the brain to dislodge (herniate)
  • Meningitis: an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meninges)
  • Intracranial hematoma: A condition in which blood collects inside the skull and puts pressure on the brain. It is usually caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.

Physical symptoms of a head injury

People who have suffered a brain injury may have physical, cognitive, mental, or behavioral symptoms, or a combination of these symptoms. Sensory problems are more common in mild head trauma.

Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the head injury:

Mild head trauma

Physical symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Speech problems
  • Dizziness or loss of balance

Sensor problems:

  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Changes in the ability to smell
  • Sensitivity to light or sound

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness from a few seconds to a few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of disorientation, confusion, or disorientation
  • Memory or concentration problems

Behavioral symptoms:

  • The mood changes
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual

Moderate to severe head injury

Physical symptoms:

  • Prolonged loss of consciousness: from a few minutes to hours
  • Persistent headaches or headaches that get worse
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Mydriasis (dilation of one or both pupils)

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Deep confusion
  • Agitation, belligerence or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness

A five-year perspective

Even if a person survives a traumatic brain injury, 50% of survivors continue to decline or die within five years of the initial injury.

Five years after injury, for individuals with moderate to severe TBI:

  • 57% are moderately or severely disabled;
  • 55% do not have a job;
  • 50% return to the hospital at least once;
  • 33% ask for help from others in everyday tasks; and
  • 29% use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol.


A brain injury victim and their family members may be entitled to legal aid.

Legal aid is paid in the form of damages in every court case. Damages are compensation to make the injured party “whole” again.

Often the victim’s family can rely on them for financial support. A brain injury can put a family’s financial well-being at risk, making sacrifices unnecessary.

Damage compensation comes in two forms: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are losses that can be easily quantified, while non-economic damages cannot be easily quantified but affect the quality of life of a person.

Economic damage includes:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost income opportunity
  • Home services
  • Rehabilitation equipment

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship, love and affection
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Disruption

An experienced Austin personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and determine what damages you may be able to recover.

An Austin brain injury attorney is fighting for you

A brain injury can have a devastating effect on a family. Even if a person survives head trauma, they are often left with lifelong cognitive and physical limitations. Aside from the emotional pain, you don’t have to sacrifice your family’s financial future. Contact our office today for a free consultation. TK injury attorneys are here to help.

Trent Kelly

Trent Kelly received his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2007. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and regularly assists clients with their legal matters. Trent’s practice focuses primarily on personal injury, particularly involving motor vehicles (such as cars, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and motorcycles) and wrongful death, but he also handles a variety of business litigation matters. comes out. Click here to review some of the complex cases Trent has handled.

Years of experience: +15 years
Address: Austin, TX

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