Types of Head Injuries

Types of Head Injuries

Head injuries are damage to the scalp, skull, or brain caused by trauma. When it affects the brain, they’re called  a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. 

To most people, head injuries are considered an acceptable risk when engaging in sports and other types of recreational activities. But they’re dangerous. They can lead to permanent disability, mental impairment, and even death. There are steps you can take to lower the risk and protect yourself and your children.

There are many different types of head injuries. 

  • Concussion. This is the most common type of head injury. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that happens when the brain is jarred or shaken hard enough to bounce against the skull. It can range from mild to severe. You don’t have to be hit in the head to get a concussion. An impact elsewhere on the body can create enough force to jar the brain. 
  • Contusion. A bruise on the actual brain itself is called a contusion. It can cause bleeding and swelling. 
  • Intracranial hematoma (ICH). This is bleeding under the skull in the brain that forms a clot. Brain hematomas range from mild to severe and are grouped according to where they form.
  • Skull fractureSometimes, a broken skull bone can affect the brain. The broken pieces of bone can cut into the brain and cause bleeding and other types of injury.

Head Injury Causes

The most common causes of head injuries are: 

  • Car or motorcycle accidents 
  • Falls
  • Child abuse
  • Acts of violence

A concussion or other head injury can also happen when two athletes collide or a player is hit in the head with a piece of sporting equipment. In soccer, even “heading” the ball can cause a concussion.

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Among the sports-related activities that cause the highest number of head injuries for all ages:

  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball and softball
  • Riding powered recreational vehicles such as dune buggies, go-karts, and mini bikes

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, the five leading activities that cause  concussions in children and adolescents aged 5-18 years of age are:

  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Playground activities
  • Soccer

Sports activities and trauma aren’t always the cause of head injuries. Contusions or brain hemorrhages can have other causes, such as: 

  • Long-term high blood pressure (in adults)
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Use of blood thinners or certain recreational drugs 


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