Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury

Is a diffuse axonal brain injury worse than any other form of brain injury? You may have asked yourself this question and been confused by what you have found.  After all, the classification of brain injuries can as complex and diverse as the brain itself.  The important thing to remember about any brain injury is to learn to recognize that symptoms can appear over time and more damage can occur if they are not acknowledged and treated.

If you or a family member have been told you suffered a diffuse axonal brain injury (a type of severe traumatic brain injury or severe closed head injury) you may have learned that it is actually one of the most common types of injuries, but also one of the most severe types that can lead to death. It is called diffuse because unlike some other brain injuries that are focal, in one generalized area; this type is widespread affecting a larger area.

Unlike some of the other brain injuries that may be caused by a blow to the head this one is different. Diffuse axonal brain injury is caused by the movement of the brain within the skull. As a closed head injury, this can be much more dangerous than an open head injury because of the tearing of the brain tissue and the swelling that can occur.  These movements, which are normally a back and forth type of movement, disrupt the nerve cells which allow the neurons to send messages between them.  Once those cells are disrupted and the links between them broken, the signally process can not occur and functions like movement, speech, and even those that support life can cease. 

Causes of Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury

So what can cause a diffuse axonal injury?  This type of severe traumatic brain injury can be sustained through automobile accidents where the individual’s head and upper torso are moved in a back and forth motion. A bomb blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) can cause this type of TBI.  Abuse, falls, sports related accidents and baby shaken syndrome all are common causes of diffuse axonal brain injury. This injury as mentioned occurs from the brain movement within the skull.  Neurons signaling your bodily functions are disrupted, your brain swells and cells die which can all lead to, unconsciousness, vegetative states and ultimately death.

Symptoms of Axonal Brain Injury

The symptom that is most evident from this type of brain injury is mainly unconsciousness. If the individual is unconscious for more than 6 hours, they could have experienced a diffuse axonal injury. Some may appear conscious and will have other symptoms associated with the injury depending on which areas of the brain have been affected. It is imperative to seek the proper medical attention if such symptoms are evident. Immediate action must be taken in order to avoid further damage and hope for recovery.