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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Related Definitions

Experiencing a traumatic brain injury or having a loved one who suffered a TBI can be bewildering. The medical terminology used during regular discussions about TBI can leave you feeling overwhelmed and wondering if you will ever truly understand what actually occurred. As a patient or family member, it is important to be aware of some of the important terms and definitions commonly used in discussions of traumatic brain injury. This is particularly true if you are considering filing a legal claim against another person or organization for negligence that may have caused your traumatic brain injury. The following provides definitions for some key terms related to traumatic brain injury. Any specific medical questions or discussions should be directed to your doctor or healthcare provider.

For additional information regarding the legal aspects of traumatic brain injury claims in New Jersey, please contact our team at Fronzuto Law Group today. We are dedicated to serving victims who suffer TBI and other injuries caused by the negligence of others. Call 973-435-4551 or contact us online for a free consultation about your case.

Key Terms Related to Traumatic Brain Injuries

In general, a traumatic brain injury refers to damage affecting the brain cells and tissues, caused by an external force. TBI may result in a variety of conditions affecting movement, vision, speech, thinking, memory, perception, sensation, hearing, learning, mental, and behavioral functions. It is important to note that a TBI is different from a “head injury,” which can refer to any injury of the head and potentially the brain, including external injuries such as lacerations, and internal injuries like contusions. A head injury can describe injuries affecting the scalp, forehead, and the greater area of the head itself. Other important terms and definitions related to traumatic brain injury are provided below.

Acquired Brain Injury: these injuries occur after a person experiences normal growth and brain development from initial conception through birth. They are not congenital, or inherited, but are sustained by a person through some other mechanism or event that causes brain dysfunction. Hypoxic and anoxic brain damage during birth are an example of acquired brain injury.

Anoxia: lack of oxygen to the tissues of an organ (in this case, the brain), which causes cells the die. When the brain is deprived of sufficient blood and oxygen, brain cells become damaged and die. Once brain cell death occurs, the damage is irreversible.

Closed Head Injury: these injuries occur through direct contact of the head with an object. A sudden, violent motion affecting the head, whether through direct or indirect force, a fall, or another means, may result in this type of brain injury. A closed head injury does not penetrate the skull. Closed head injuries cause damage to the brain tissue through excessive stretching, twisting, and pressure on the brain tissue.

Concussion: occurs when the brain is injured by violent shaking, striking, or a blow to the head. These injuries result in a temporary disruption of brain function and may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Sensory impairments such as changes in vision are common with concussions.

Contusion: swelling in a particular area of the brain caused by swollen tissue and broken blood vessels releasing blood.

Diffuse Brain Injury: brain cell damage that occurs throughout the brain, as opposed to those affecting a singular region. These injuries create widespread damage and produce a host of highly variable symptoms.

Diffuse Axonal Injury: injury affecting the axons of the brain, which are used for communication between nerve cells. A diffuse axonal injury occurs when axons are damaged through rapid movement of the head backward and forward. The rapid deceleration caused by the violent rotational motion produces tearing and damage to the axons. Common examples include motor vehicle accidents and what is often called “shaken baby syndrome.”

Open Head Injury: brain injuries that occur when the head experiences direct trauma that penetrates the skull.

Secondary Conditions & Complications from TBI

There are a number of secondary conditions and complications that may be caused by complications from traumatic brain injuries. Soon after the immediate traumatic brain event, the body responds by producing chemicals that create inflammation. Inflammation causes brain swelling and associated intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull), that may impede the draining of cerebrospinal fluid. An accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid further increases the pressure on the brain, which leads to brain damage. As brain damage and cell death continues, secondary conditions may develop and be permanent. Some of the leading injuries and conditions that may be caused by TBI include:

  • Brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation to the cells
  • Brain swelling
  • Brain bleeding or bleeding inside the skull
  • Cerebral Palsy 
  • Hydrocephalus: build up of fluid in the brain, which causes brain damage
  • Paraplegia: paralysis from the waist down
  • Memory loss
  • Problems with thinking and cognition
  • Language and communication problems
  • Personality changes

For additional information about the legal rights of victims who suffer traumatic brain injuries and brain damage caused by others, contact the skilled New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group now. Consultations are absolutely free and confidential.

You can access a more exhaustive list of brain injury terms here.

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