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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Traumatic brain injury

Introduction

A traumatic brain injury is usually the result of a sudden, violent blow to the head. Such a blow can launch the brain on a collision course with the inside of the skull. The skull itself can often withstand a forceful external impact without fracturing. The result - an injured brain inside an intact skull - is known as a closed-head injury.

A brain injury may also occur when a projectile, such as a bullet, rock or fragment of a fractured skull, actually penetrates the brain. This type of injury is far less common than is the closed-head variety.

The severity of brain injuries can vary greatly, depending on the part of the brain affected and the extent of the damage. A mild brain injury may cause temporary confusion and headache, but a serious one can be fatal.