Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden physical assault on the head causes damage to the brain. A closed injury occurs when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, but the object does not break through the skull. A penetrating injury occurs when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. Several types of traumatic injuries can affect the head and brain.
- A skull fracture occurs when the bone of the skull cracks or breaks.
- A depressed skull fracture occurs when pieces of the broken skull press into the tissue of the brain. This can cause bruising of the brain tissue, called a contusion.
- A contusion can also occur in response to shaking of the brain within the confines of the skull.
Damage to a major blood vessel within the head can cause a hematoma, or heavy bleeding into or around the brain. The severity of a TBI can range from a mild concussion to the extremes of coma or even death.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when a traumatic event results in damage to cells in the spinal cord or severs the nerve tracts that relay signals up and down the spinal cord. The most common types of spinal cord injury include:
- contusion (bruising of the spinal cord)
- compression (caused by pressure on the spinal cord)
Other types of spinal cord injury include lacerations (severing or tearing of nerve fibers) and central cord syndrome (specific damage to the cervical region of the spinal cord).