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Brain Damage: Understanding Diffuse Axonal Injury

Of the many types of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is one of the most serious. Most TBIs involve the head suddenly moving or the skull suddenly stopping, leading the brain to smash into the skull. Bruising, concussion and a variety of other brain injuries are caused by this type of internal impact. Diffuse axonal injury, however, is not the result of bruising or crushing of the brain.

A different type of brain injury

Diffuse axonal injury is caused by the tearing of brain tissue. While it is also the result of sudden acceleration, and may occur with impact, it is caused by a different type of damage known as shearing. The brain is primarily made up of two types of material, gray matter and white matter. These tissues have different densities, so they move at different speeds during an impact. This movement causes shearing, a dangerous sliding of some parts of the brain over other parts.

These shearing forces cause damage by stretching or tearing the long part of brain nerve cells known as axons. When axons are damaged, brain cells may not be able to communicate with each other. The results can be debilitating or deadly. This injury is known as diffuse axonal injury because rather than occurring in one spot, like a bruise, it is spread out (diffuse) throughout the patient’s brain.

Diffuse axonal injury is regularly caused by auto accidents, assaults and falls. It can be an extremely dire injury. Many people who suffer DAIs fall into a persistent vegetative state. Some do not wake up. Others suffer from a lifetime of neurological problems.

If a loved one has suffered a head injury due to an auto accident or negligence, contact a knowledgeable Atlanta traumatic brain injury attorney at McMenamy Law LLC.