Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Friday, August 4, 2023

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

An estimated 1.5 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually. TBIs are a leading cause of disability and death in adults.

A traumatic brain injury can change a person’s life in an instant. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, a vibrant member of society may lose the ability to complete daily tasks or even lapse into a vegetative state.

If you or a family member have experienced complications from a traumatic brain injury, you have experienced a substantial loss. At Malman Law, our brain injury lawyers help accident victims and their families receive the financial support they desperately need in a crisis.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A TBI is a violent strike, bump, or blow to the head that affects a person’s brain function. A traumatic brain injury can be caused by a penetrating injury, like a bullet, or a non-penetrating injury, like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat.

In a recent year, there were 69,473 TBI-related deaths in the United States. That equates to around 190 TBI-related deaths daily, many of which were completely preventable.

Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe. Symptoms will range based on the severity and type of TBI.

What are Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries?


It is estimated that every 20 minutes, an older adult suffers fatal injuries due to a fall. Senior adults 65 and older are at increased risk of falling because of coordination, balance, and strength issues.

An elderly individual can easily hit their head on a table or other fixed object, resulting in blunt force trauma. When the fall results in a moderate to severe brain injury, the person may lose consciousness.

For an elderly person who lives alone, a neighbor or friend may not check in regularly. When medical attention is required, the older adult may not receive it in time.

Car Accidents

In many car accidents, your head may come in contact with a blunt object. When airbags do not properly deploy, accident victims are known to hit their heads on the steering wheel or even the dashboard.

The importance of wearing a seatbelt cannot be understated. In a single year, seatbelts save approximately 15,000 lives. Not wearing buckling up has been shown to increase the severity of TBIs and hospital admittance.

Sports Injuries

Athletes are vulnerable to head injuries, especially those who participate in contact sports. Athletes who partake in cycling, football, and baseball repeatedly suffer the highest number of brain injuries each year.

Although not usually life-threatening, even a person who sustains a mild TBI should seek medical treatment.

In addition to these causes, medical malpractice is also an important cause of brain injuries in the country.

Who is More Likely to Suffer From a TBI?

People involved in certain professions are more at risk for TBIs, including:

  • Athletes
  • Construction workers
  • Law enforcement
  • Military service members

Men are known for taking more risks, so it is no surprise that 80% of TBI victims identify as male.

TBIs in children are a serious matter known to disrupt brain development. This may result in trouble concentrating, learning, and behaving.

Infants and the elderly also have a greater chance of experiencing a TBI due to their risk of falling. While infants may fall out of their cribs or changing tables, the elderly are more prone to falling from lacking balance.

Primary and Secondary Injuries

When someone sustains a TBI, there is an initial blow to the head (primary injury) and the body’s response to the trauma (secondary injury). In the body’s attempt to compensate, your condition can decline rapidly.

If you experience a blow to the head, your brain will often swell. The increase in intracranial pressure (the space between the brain and the skull) can cause your blood pressure to increase. This is the body’s attempt to deliver oxygen to your brain cells. With elevated blood pressure, your heart rate will decrease, known as bradycardia.

Too slow a heart rate will prevent your blood from reaching vital organs. Patients experiencing bradycardia may experience dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and syncope. If you don’t receive immediate medical attention, you may die.

Primary Injuries

Skull fracture

A skull fracture is a break in the skull bone. There are four different types ranging in severity.

The most severe type is a basilar skull fracture. In this type, symptoms include bruising around the eyes and a bruise behind the ear. Patients normally require close observation in the hospital.

General symptoms associated with a skull fracture are headaches, confusion, bruising, and pain at the site of impact.


A contusion is a bruising of the brain tissue. The bruising can occur when small blood vessels get crushed, causing bleeding and swelling.

Symptoms may present as difficulty understanding speech, challenges speaking, memory problems, and trouble coordinating movements.


A concussion is a low-velocity injury that may cause a loss of awareness or alertness anywhere from minutes to hours following an accident.

In some concussions, a person may lose consciousness. Common symptoms include headache, memory loss, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.


A laceration is a tear in brain tissue or blood vessels of the brain. A higher impact force will often cause a laceration, while a force with a lower impact will cause a contusion.

Common symptoms include loss of consciousness, a persistent headache, repeated vomiting, seizures, and convulsions.

Diffuse axonal injury

A diffuse axonal injury is the tearing of nerve fibers in the brain’s white matter. It is caused by a shaking or strong rotation of the head, which commonly takes place in a car crash.

Symptoms may include confusion, headache, sleep issues, and dizziness.

Secondary Injuries

  • Hypoxia: lack of oxygen in the brain
  • Cerebral edema: swelling of the brain
  • Increased intracranial pressure (ICP): increased pressure in the space between the brain and skull, which can result in parts of the brain being displaced (herniation)
  • Meningitis: an infection that results in inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes (meninges)
  • Intracranial hematoma: usually caused by a blood vessel that ruptures in the brain; an intracranial hematoma is a condition in which blood pools within the skull.

How Can a Brain Injury Attorney Help Me?

A brain injury attorney understands how to be successful with a traumatic brain injury claim. Even if the insurance company wants you to provide a statement, refuse to do so. Insurance carriers are only interested in twisting your words and using your testimony against you.

At Malman Law, we will discuss your case with our network of doctors and psychologists to gather necessary medical imaging and evidence. Our close affiliation with medical experts makes us different from other brain injury attorneys.

We handle the insurance negotiations on your behalf. We know that the effects of a brain injury are ongoing. If the insurance company is not offering you a fair settlement, we will take your case to trial. We will not settle for less than you deserve.

An Aggressive Chicago Brain Injury Attorney

The ramifications of a brain injury are widespread. A brain injury victim may have to undergo years of rehabilitative therapies, and family members may need to sacrifice their time to help. Looking past the physical limitations a person will face, he or she may suffer emotional and mental anguish.

Don’t let someone else’s negligence go unpunished. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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