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Common Brain Injuries Caused By Car Accidents

Did you know that 30% of all injury related deaths are linked to traumatic brain injuries? These numbers, taken from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are eye opening. What’s more, we’ve seen that nearly 15% of these deaths are caused by car accidents. Traumatic brain injuries related to auto accidents are the leading cause of death for drivers and passengers between 5 and 24 years.

They’re also a leading cause of hospitalization for ages 15 to 44 in Florida.

If the driver or a passenger ends up hitting their head against anything hard enough during a car accident, it could result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This type of violent trauma can result in the brain colliding with the inside of the skull. The tissue of the brain will absorb the brunt of the powerful forces exerted on initial impact and this can disrupt normal brain function to varying degrees.

Scan taken of brain injured in a car accident in Tampa

A TBI occurs when there is a sudden striking of the brain against the skull caused by a violent shaking, unnatural movement or a hit to the head by or against another object. The soft tissue of the brain absorbs the powerful force of the impact and according to the velocity inside the skull; varying degrees of disruption of normal brain function may result. Also known as a closed brain injury, its effect may range from mild to severe.

Types of Brain Injuries Caused By Car Accidents

The brutal trauma that can be inflicted on the body during a car accident can result in a wide range of injuries, especially for the brain. One major concern to be aware of is that an injured brain may not be immediately apparent following the accident. This is why brain injuries can be so dangerous or even deadly. We want to provide details on the most common brain injuries that our neurosurgeons see in car accident victims, so you’ll know what to look out for.


These are one of the most common types of brain injuries. If you or a family member plays contact sports in Florida, then you are probably already have some knowledge about concussions and their symptoms. If the brain undergoes trauma from a significant impact, change in direction or momentum, then it can cause a concussion.


So the word “contusion” essentially means bruising. Unlike a bruise you may get from banging your shin with the car door, a contusion on the brain is much more serious. If you suffer a contusion from a car accident, it may require surgery to treat.


This type of traumatic brain injury occurs when there are contusions on both sides of the brain. So during the auto accident, the victim’s head experiences trauma from the site of impact and on the opposite side as well.

Diffuse Axonal

This type of TBI occurs when the head is rotated to an extreme degree. This severe rotation can produce tears in vital brain structures. It’s important to note that concussions are a milder form of diffuse axonal injury.

Penetration Injury

Sadly, you can probably already guess what this type of TBI is. If an object ends up penetrating the skull into the brain during a car crash, doctors refer to this as a penetrating injury.

How Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Diagnosed?

The danger with brain injuries are that they can quickly become deadly if not diagnosed immediately. If you have been in a car accident in Florida, than it is imperative that you seek the appropriate medical attention afterwards. Even if you’re feeling fine, you should undergo a neurological exam to test your motor and sensory functions.

An initial assessment may be carried out with standardized assessments that provide an accurate way to assess whether an individual has suffered a mild TBI. Any symptoms, such as the presence of memory loss (amnesia) and/or seizures will be noted. Here are some symptoms that may indicate a TBI following a car accident:

  • Issues thinking or processing information
  • Responding to questions or communicating slower than normal
  • Difficulty concentrating and confusion
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Heightened sensitivity to light or sound
  • Issues with coordination or balance
  • Uncharacteristic levels of exhaustion
  • Low level of alertness
  • Experiencing uncharacteristic fluctuations in emotion
  • Seizures
  • Period of unconsciousness after the accident
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Dilated or uneven pupils

If necessary, you may need to undergo a brain scan, so doctors can evaluate the full extent of the damage inflicted on the brain. These types of scans will also tell your doctors if you’ll need surgery in order to treat the TBI. Ultimately, this is determined by the patient’s symptoms and a physical examination.

What Happens to the Brain at the Point of Injury?

With traumatic brain injuries, the trauma inflicted results from a blow to the head that can whip it forward, back or side to side. If this happening during a car accident, the velocity at which the brain smashes into the side of the skull can cause serious damage. The impact can cause bruising (contusions) and tear blood vessels. The damage is inflicted either at the point of impact, or it can occur on the opposite side of the head.

In short, damage caused by a car accident can be localized or it can be widespread throughout the brain. The extent of the damage will depend on the amount of force inflicted on the patient’s head. A head that contacts the windshield during an auto accident will sustain significantly more damage compared to a sports concussion.

What Steps Should You Take Next?

If you have been in a car accident and have experienced any of the symptoms described above, please make an appointment with your primary health care provider. Don’t overlook something even as relatively minor as a headache. This could mean something much more serious is going on, but you won’t know without the proper evaluation.

Couple about to get into car accident in Florida

That being said, we recommend going to the doctor no matter what if you have been in a car accident in Florida. Remember that brain injuries can be silent killers. Damage that is left untreated can cause more issues, some that may even be untreatable.

If you have already been to a doctor and are looking to schedule a surgical consultation, then please use the form on this page to make an appointment with Florida Surgery Consultants. We employ only the best board certified neurosurgeons in Florida. You can also call us today at (888) 411-6824 to learn more.

General FAQs of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Every year there is an estimated 200,000 new Traumatic Brain Injury cases in the United States alone

The most common causes is a sports injury or a car accident

There are physical, sensory, and mental symptoms:

Physical: loss of consciousness, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance, and nausea

Sensory: light sensitivity, blurred vision, ears ringing, or sound sensitivity

Mental: Memory Loss, Emotional changes, depression, or problems with speech

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Injury to the brain, usually called a MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) The main cause is a blow to the head

Bleeding in the body, when talking about Brain Contusions it is bleeding in the brain.

When the force of the car accident is so great the brain moves in the opposite direction and hits the skull causing two points of impact in the brain.

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