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Head Injury: Types, Cause & Symptoms

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

Head injury: Types, Causes & Symptoms

Injuries can be pretty bad, especially if it occurs to the most sensitive part of our human body - our brain. Recently, head injuries have been one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide (International Brain).

In a report by Northern Brain Injury Association, it was cited that more than 452 people suffer a serious brain injury every day in Canada. This translates to one person injured with a traumatic brain injury every 3 minutes.

So, what types of injuries are considered to be head injuries? Let’s find out!

What Is A Head Injury?

As the name suggests, a head injury is any sort of injury to your brain, skull or scalp. Typical head injuries can include a mild bump, bruise or a traumatic brain injury. Although the most common bumps and bruises won’t affect your day-to-day activities, more severe head injuries including concussions, scalp wounds and skull fractures can leave you with a lot to worry about.

Head injuries can be of either two types. These are:

Closed Head Injury

This type of head injury are considered to be non-lethal. Whenever you have a head injury that doesn’t result in your skull breaking apart, it is a closed head injury. While these head injury may not result in massive damage, it might cause internal bleeding and damage your brains within your skull. This is why assessing the risk may be quite difficult.

Open Head Injury

A head injury that results in the breaking of the skull and scalp is said to be an open head injury. This type of head injury can be quite lethal, mainly because it opens up the cranial cavity. This might result in bacterial infections and other life-threatening situations.

Causes Of Head Injuries

In general, head injuries are commonly divided into two main categories based on what causes the injury. These are: injuries due to shaking and injuries due to blow to the head.

Injuries due to shaking can occur for various reasons:

  • Infants rolling around

  • Prolonged body movements

  • Intensive exercises

Injuries relating to blow to the head (TBI) can occur due to:

  • Sports-related accidents

  • Physical assaults

  • Falls

  • Motor vehicle accidents

Acquired brain injuries can also be caused by:

  • Poisoning or exposure to toxic substances

  • Infection

  • Heart attacks

  • Stroke

  • Strangulation, drowning or choking

  • Tumors

  • Aneurysms

  • Neurological illnesses

  • Abuse of illegal drugs

Types Of Head Injury

Head injuries are classified into six different categories, each having a certain level of importance. The main types of head injuries are:

Diffuse axonal injury

A diffuse axonal injury, or sheer injury, is when your brain gets damaged but that doesn’t lead to internal bleeding. Due to the damage in the brain cells, the brain loses its functionality and may lead to memory loss and many other issues. Such damage to the brain can also result in swelling of the brain, which causes more damage. This type of brain damage may be quite deadly, and may leave the patient with permanent brain damage and may even result in death!

Skull fracture

As the name suggests, skull fracture takes place when the skull breaks. In most cases, the skull is able to absorb the impact of the blow. Whenever the impact is too much for the skull to handle, the skull might break. In this case, there is a high chance that you’re brain might also be damaged.


Edema refers to the swelling of the surrounding tissues in the head. Most brain injuries result in edema, but this might get more serious when it occurs in the brain. As the skull can never stretch, any swelling in the brain can lead to pressure buildup in the cranial cavity, which may cause your brain to press against your skull. This might lead to permanent brain damage.


Concussions occur when the brain hits hard against the walls of the skull due to sudden movements of the head. Although this might not result in the skull breaking, but the brain suffers internal damage. Professional athletes are faced with concussions most often mainly due to prolonged sports activities.

Concussions may cause the brain to lose functionality temporarily. However, repeated concussions might eventually result in permanent damage to the brain. This is why identifying the concussion symptoms is very important for better treatment of patients.


Haemorrhage is a situation where there is an uncontrolled bleeding. Whenever your head receives a blow, the cranial cavity within your head can suffer from internal bleeding, often referred to as subarachnoid haemorrhage. Such haemorrhage may cause severe headaches and vomiting.

Bleeding within your brain tissues (intracerebral haemorrhage) may also occur. Such haemorrhage can cause blot clots within the brain, and over time it can cause pressure to build up within the cranial cavity.


A hematoma occurs when blood clots outside the blood vessels. After a haemorrhage, there’s an increased chance of hematoma occurring within your brain. This might bring serious damage to the brain if the condition is prolonged. If the clotting stays in your brain for too long, pressure might build up in your cranial cavity which might affect your brain. It can cause a loss of consciousness or may end up in a permanent brain damage.

Head Injury Signs & Head Injury Symptoms

Symptoms Of Brain Injury

Brain injuries can occur all of a sudden, and you must know how to identify it before treating it. This might be particularly necessary because knowing the symptoms of brain injury will guide to the proper treatment, which might save the patient’s life. However, most symptoms of serious traumatic brain injury do not appear right away. This is why you must always continue to monitor the symptoms for several days after injuring the head.

The most common symptoms for minor head injury includes:

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Spinning Sensations

  • Mild Confusion

  • Lightheadedness

  • Temporary Ringing In The Ears

Some other symptoms that may indicate a more serious head injury are:

  • Unconsciousness

  • Seizures

  • Vomiting

  • Balancing Problems

  • Disorientation Of The Body

  • Abnormal Eye Movements

  • Inability To Focus

  • Memory Loss

  • Mucus Leaking From The Nose

When Should You Diagnose Your Head Injury?

Head injuries can be deadly, and you should never take these lightly. If you happen to notice any sign of serious head injuries, you must consult with a doctor right away.

In particular, you must seek medical attention if you have:

  • Confusion

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Disorientation

In case you have a serious head injury, you must consult with a doctor and seek immediate medical attention. For many cases, such head injuries have lead to permanent brain damage and even death - you might not want that!

Treating head injury: When should you treat head injury

Treatment Of Head Injury

The treatment of head injuries depends mainly on the type and severity of the injury. In case of minor head injury, you can take medication and take care of the wound. However, you must always monitor for symptoms of severe head injury even weeks after the initial injury.

For more serious head injuries, you should take:


Severe head injuries can lead to seizures that can last for weeks. This is why doctors often prescribe anti-seizure medicines to let away the chances of seizures.

If there is a pressure buildup in your cranial cavity, doctors might prescribe you diuretics that helps alleviate the pain.

For more serious head injuries, doctors may put you in an induced coma. This is a viable option for treatment if your blood vessels are damaged due to the injury. During a coma, your brain won’t need oxygen and nutrient in quantities that it normally requires, so the body can heal faster.


Surgeries can be necessary when the brain damage is out of control. To prevent further damage to the brain, doctors might need an operation to:

  • Repair your skull

  • Remove a hematoma

  • Release pressure in the cranial cavity


After a serious brain injury, a rehabilitation period is considered to be an excellent treatment for patients. Proper rehabilitation may help regain full brain functionality, and enhance its efficiency by time. Firms like Sport Outreach helps patients to regain their brain’s full functionality after head injury through rehabilitation programmes.

The rehabilitation programmes help the patients guide through to normal life, while maintaining a slow yet cautious approach to the treatment of the injury. Such programmes have shown excellent results over the last century, and are trusted by most physiotherapists all over the world.


Brain injuries are one of the most common yet most deadly type of injury. These might dictate the outcome of the patient, and more serious injuries may lead to permanent brain injury and even death!

Brain damage can be classified into two categories - open and closed head injury. Knowing the injury and identifying the symptoms of head injuries can help alleviate the problems relating to such injury.

To treat head injuries, doctors often prescribe medicines. For some serious cases, doctors may need an operation to ensure nothing goes wrong.

Rehabilitation programmes are, too, massively popular and effective ways of treatment for head injuries. Top firms like Sport Outreach have successfully managed to cure patients with the help of scientific methods, and this has truly benefited the patients.

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