Traumatic Injuries of the Brain

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are complex conditions resulting from a sudden blow, jolt, or penetrating injury to the head. Whether caused by accidents, falls, or sports-related incidents, TBIs can lead to significant cognitive, emotional, and physical challenges. 

At Haynes Neurosurgical Group, we recognize the challenges posed by traumatic brain injuries and strive to provide comprehensive care to individuals affected by these conditions.

Understanding TBI

The brain is an incredibly complex organ responsible for coordinating various bodily functions and facilitating cognitive processes. Its functioning involves intricate interactions between neurons, neurotransmitters, and different regions.

Traumatic brain injuries typically begin with a forceful impact or sudden acceleration/deceleration of the head. This force can be a result of accidents, falls, sports-related collisions, or other incidents that may have caused the head to strike an object or experience rapid movement changes.

The initial impact leads to what is known as the primary injury. Common primary injuries that affect the brain in different ways include:

  • Concussions
  • Contusions
  • Diffuse Axonal Injuries (DAI)

The primary injury often triggers a second set of processes that worsen the damage. This may be identified as a secondary injury. Inflammation, increased pressure within the skull (intracranial pressure), and chemical imbalances contribute to secondary injury.

Other changes that may result from TBI can include:

  • Cellular and Molecular Changes: Cellular damage occurs at the molecular level due to the release of neurotransmitters and inflammatory mediators.
  • Neurological Dysfunction: As a cumulative impact of primary and secondary injuries results, cognitive, motor, and sensory functions may be impacted.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Each type of TBI presents unique challenges and can impact various aspects of a patient’s life. 


Concussions are mild TBIs characterized by a temporary disturbance in brain function. They are most commonly caused by a direct blow to the head, falls, or sudden acceleration/deceleration forces.

The impact causes the brain to move within the skull. Additionally, rapid deceleration or rotational forces after impact can lead to the stretching and shearing of nerve fibers, disrupting normal electrical activity.

Concussions are usually a result of a direct blow to the head, falls, or sudden acceleration/deceleration during sports-related impacts, falls, or accidents.

Concussions may cause a shift in various aspects of life:

  • Cognitive changes, such as difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and confusion
  • Physical symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise
  • Emotional changes, such as mood swings, irritability, and anxiety

Concussions often resolve on their own with proper rest, but some symptoms may persist.


Contusions are bruising or bleeding on the surface of the brain, usually caused by a direct impact that results in the rupture of blood vessels. This can lead to localized bleeding and swelling.

Contusions may lead to localized bleeding, swelling, and neurological deficits. They usually occur as a result of falls, car accidents, or in the case of physical assaults.

Contusions may cause:

  • Swelling can cause increased pressure within the skull
  • Altered consciousness may occur depending on the severity of the injury
  • Neurological deficits, such as motor or sensory impairments, depending on the contusion's location

Urgent medical intervention is crucial to reduce swelling and prevent further damage in the case of contusions. 

Diffuse Axonal Injuries

Diffuse axonal injuries (DAIs) involve widespread tearing of nerve fibers (axons) across the brain. The forceful motion of the brain within the skull causes these fibers to stretch and tear, impacting overall communication within the brain’s neural network.

DAIs are generally caused by high-speed impacts or rotational forces, common in severe accidents or falls. These injuries can have a powerful impact on your life, including:

  • Coma: Severe DAIs may result in a prolonged state of unconsciousness
  • Cognitive Impairment: Memory loss, attention deficits, and communication challenges
  • Motor Dysfunction: Impaired coordination and difficulty with voluntary movements

Those with DAIs often require intensive rehabilitation to recover from the TBI.

Diagnostic Tools for Brain Injuries

Accurate diagnosis of brain injuries is essential for appropriate treatment and management. Several diagnostic tools and tests can be used to assess the extent of the injury. 

  • Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS): It evaluates eye, verbal, and motor responses to stimuli, assigning a score. Lower scores indicate more severe impairment.
  • CT Scans: They provide detailed images of the brain's structure to identify bleeding, swelling, or structural abnormalities.
  • MRIs: They offer more detailed images than CT scans, highlighting subtle changes in brain tissue.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): They measure electrical activity in the brain to aid in detecting abnormal patterns.
  • Cerebral Angiography: It visualizes blood vessels in the brain, detecting abnormalities or blockages.
  • PET Scan: It assesses brain function by measuring glucose metabolism.

At Haynes Neurosurgical Group, our neurosurgeon will determine the best diagnostic tool for you based on the details of your injury.

Treatment for Brain Injuries

The treatment of brain injuries depends on the type, severity, and specific characteristics of the injury. Brain injuries are considered medical emergencies. Swift medical attention is crucial to stabilize the patient and prevent further damage.

Treatment options may involve:

  • Prescription medications to manage symptoms, control seizures, reduce swelling, or prevent secondary complications.
  • Surgical intervention to repair skull fractures, remove blood clots, or address other structural issues.
  • Rehabilitation programs involving physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive rehabilitation to regain lost skills, improve functionality, and enhance overall quality of life.

At Haynes Neurosurgical Group, our experienced neurosurgeons devise a personalized restorative plan that may include expert surgical treatment for brain injuries. This can involve decompressive craniectomy or craniotomy, as well as rehabilitative care. 

Our goal is to stabilize any concerns related to the primary injury, prevent secondary complications, and improve functional abilities that are impacted.

Advanced Care for Traumatic Brain Injuries in Alabama

At Haynes Neurosurgical Group, we combine unmatched precision in neurosurgical techniques with personalized care, tailoring each intervention to your unique needs. 

Our brain and spine care experts are focused on your full recovery as they guide you toward a future of restored health.

To schedule a consultation with one of our experts, please call us at (205) 787-8676 or request an appointment online. 

Phone: (205) 787-8676
Fax: (205) 785-7944

801 Princeton Avenue, S.W.
P.O.B. I, Suite 310
Birmingham, AL 35211

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