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Types of Head Injuries


Types of Head Injuries

Serious head injuries may cause injuries to the brain. Head injuries are classified as either open or closed.

Open head injuries:

  • Break or crush the bones of the skull.
  • Can injure the brain and allow germs to come in contact with the brain.
  • Are emergencies and require immediate medical care.

Closed head injuries:

  • Do not break through the bones of the skull. The skull may have fractured, but the scalp is not cut or scraped.
  • Are caused by a hard blow or impact that jars the brain within the skull. The rapid movement of the brain within the skull can:
    • Cause bruising, swelling, or tearing of the brain tissue.
    • Stretch, pull apart, or tear nerves or blood vessels, causing bleeding within or around the brain.
  • Can be hard to identify. You might not be able to see an injury, because of bleeding or deformity near the injury.

Both open and closed head injuries may cause:

  • An interruption in the way the brain normally works (concussion).
  • Bruising and swelling of the brain tissue (brain bruise [contusion]).
  • Bleeding within or around the brain, a life-threatening injury. Symptoms of this type of injury may be the same as those of a concussion. More serious symptoms usually develop within 24 hours after the injury. In rare cases, if the bleeding is slow, symptoms take longer to develop.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last RevisedJuly 1, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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