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What’s the Difference Between Open and Closed Head Injuries?

two doctors hands pointing at a brain x-ray

When the term “head injury” comes up, many think of a minor head strike or a small bleed, as seen in Hollywood movies. However, there are many types of head injuries, two of which are open and closed head injuries. The difference between the two lies primarily in whether the skull has been punctured.

Open head injuries are those in which an external force, such as a bullet or blunt object, punctures the dura mater (thick membrane of connective tissue) around the brain. A minor bleed on the head is not an open head injury. Further, the brain does not have to be punctured for an injury to be classified as an open head injury. It is, however, very common for the brain to be pierced in an open head injury, if not by the external object then by pieces of the fractured skull itself.

There are four common categories of open brain injuries:

Linear skull fractures, in which the skull is cracked but the brain is not penetrated;

Diastatic skull fractures, in which the skull (typically of a baby) is separated into regions;

Depressed skull fractures, in which the skull is punctured by a sharp object and pieces of the skull break away and fall into the brain; and

Basilar skull fractures, in which the skull breaks at its base and the tissue that holds the brain in place is put at risk of tearing.

On the other hand, a closed head injury is when the body, or a part of the body, is struck by an external force, which causes the brain to move around in or slam against the skull. This results in bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels. It is important to highlight that just because the skull has not been punctured does not mean that closed head injuries are any less serious. If the external force is strong enough or if the injury is left untreated, death may result.

Common causes of closed head injuries include:

Auto accidents

Slip and falls

Sports accidents

● On-the-job accidents

Both open and closed head injuries fall under the umbrella of “traumatic brain injuries,” or TBIs. It is highly recommended to seek medical treatment as soon as practicable after sustaining a TBI, regardless of whether it is open or closed.

Did a Negligent Party Cause Your Head Injury?

Los Angeles residents who have sustained head injuries due to another party’s negligence have the right to pursue compensation for their damages. This may include lost wages, hospital treatment, medical bills, physical therapy, pain and suffering, and more.

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our accomplished attorneys have decades of experience in this area of the law. We will work to maximize your compensation so that you will be in the best possible position for moving forward. When you need a caring, capable attorney team, we stand ready to take your call.

Call (866) 634-4525 today for a free consultation with a qualified attorney.