For many years, physicians believed that injury to the brain occurred nearly instantaneously with the trauma itself. That is, the blow to the head either directly injured the brain cells (in the case of a penetrating injury) or the brain was thrown violently back and forth inside the skull (in a non-penetrating injury) causing bruising or bleeding. Brain researchers have now been able to demonstrate, however, that injury continues to occur well after the trauma as a result of the brain’s internal reaction to the trauma.
The additional damage can occur in a number of ways. First, neurotransmitter chemicals are released in large amounts which can overwhelm and severely damage brain circuits. Second, axons in nerve cells can be torn, stretched or twisted. Axons are the primary transmission lines for electrical impulses in the brain. Damage to the axons allows other chemicals to rush in causing the axons to swell. Over time, the reaction between these chemicals and those inside the nerve cell can completely destroy the axon.
Researchers have been working on developing drugs to prevent this secondary damage which occurs after the initial injury. While animal studies have been promising, nothing has proven successful in treating humans at this point.
For people who have suffered a brain injury from any source, it is important to have your case reviewed by a competent brain injury attorney. Many of the impacts of brain injury, including subtle changes in personality, ability to concentrate or memory are not clearly recognized by the injured person. A lawyer experienced with brain injury cases can help you obtain the necessary testing to pinpoint even subtle brain injuries.