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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Is a Contrecoup Injury, and How Does It Happen in Accidents?

Regarding traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), one term that often surfaces is the contrecoup injury. It may sound complicated to many. A coup-contrecoup brain injury can happen during accidents. It involves blunt force trauma to the head, like car crashes.


In this type of head injury, the damage appears at the site of impact (coup injury) and on the opposite side of the brain, away from the initial impact (contrecoup injury).


During a car accident, if someone's head suddenly jerks forward due to the force of impact, the brain can slam into the opposite side of the skull, also causing injury.


Now, many people might wonder, "How does that happen?" The brain is a delicate organ suspended within the skull by cerebrospinal fluid. When the head experiences sudden acceleration or deceleration, like in a car crash, the brain can be jolted back and forth within the skull.


This movement can cause the brain to hit against the inner skull walls. Thus, as mentioned before, it causes injury at the point of impact and on the opposite side due to the rebound effect. Coup-contrecoup brain injuries can range from mild to severe, depending on the force of the impact and other factors.


In some cases, coup-contrecoup injuries can result in severe traumatic brain injury. This can have long-term consequences for the patient's cognitive and physical functioning.


Alongside contrecoup injuries, other types of traumatic brain damage can happen in accidents, such as diffuse axonal injury. This is where the brain's nerve fibers are stretched and torn due to rotational forces on the brain. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also advise on the catastrophic injury legal definition.


How Serious Is a Coup-contrecoup Brain Injury?

How Serious Is a Coup-contrecoup Brain Injury?


Coup-contrecoup brain injuries can be quite concerning. Even if there are no visible signs of injury on the outside, the internal damage to the brain can be severe and life-threatening.


It's essential for anyone involved in a car accident, even if they feel fine initially, to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying brain injuries.


Coup and contrecoup injuries are not only physically debilitating but also emotionally and psychologically taxing for the victim and their loved ones. The uncertainty and fear surrounding the potential long-term effects of brain injuries can be overwhelming.


In milder cases, patients may experience headaches, dizziness, and confusion, which can resolve with time and proper treatment. However, in more severe cases, a traumatic brain injury can have devastating and life-altering consequences.


Physical Impairment

The brain controls virtually every aspect of functioning, from the ability to think and communicate to motor skills and emotional regulation.


When the brain sustains damage from a coup-contrecoup injury, these functions can be profoundly affected. This leads to memory, concentration, speech, movement, and mood regulation difficulties.


Secondary Implications

A coup-contrecoup brain injury can increase the risk of secondary complications. This includes seizures, infections, and swelling of the brain.


This can also further worsen the victim's condition and prolong their recovery. In some cases, coup-contrecoup brain injuries can be fatal, mainly if there is widespread damage to vital areas of the brain or if complications arise during the recovery process.


Long-term Disabilities

Another factor that contributes to the seriousness of coup-contrecoup brain injuries is the potential for long-term disability and dependence on others for daily care.


Victims who sustain severe head trauma may need extensive rehabilitation and ongoing support to regain lost skills and adapt to any permanent impairments. This can place an emotional and financial burden on the patient and their family members.


The Three Causes of a Coup-contrecoup Injury


One of the leading causes of a coup-contrecoup injury is blunt force trauma to the head. This can happen in various scenarios, including car accidents, falls, physical assaults, and sports-related incidents.


When the head experiences a sudden impact or acceleration-deceleration motion, the brain can collide with the inner walls of the skull. As a result, the organ can go through immense stress during the crash, causing severe injury and internal bleeding.


Rapid Deceleration

Suddenly hitting the brake during a car crash or a drastic fall from a height can also result in a coup-contrecoup injury.


When a moving object suddenly comes to a stop, the brain, which is suspended within the skull by cerebrospinal fluid, continues moving forward due to inertia.


This can cause it to strike against the front of the skull (coup injury) and then rebound and hit the back of the skull (contrecoup injury).


Rotational Forces

On the other hand, rotational forces can contribute to coup-contrecoup injuries. The brain can twist and contort within the skull when the head undergoes rotational acceleration or deceleration. This leads to shearing forces that damage at multiple points along its surface.


Secondary Impact

Sometimes, a coup injury occurs when a secondary impact follows the initial trauma. A person can sustain the first coup injury in a car accident, afterward hitting their head on another object, such as the steering wheel or dashboard.


The force of this secondary impact can further worsen the contrecoup injury on the opposite side of the brain.


Recovering Maximum Compensation for a Traumatic Brain Injury in Indiana


Securing maximum reimbursement for a coup-contrecoup injury is a crucial aspect of the recovery process, both physically and emotionally. TBIs can have devastating and long-lasting effects on victims and their families, impacting every aspect of their lives.


Legal Representation

The first step in recovering maximum compensation for coup-contrecoup injuries is to seek legal representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis specializing in TBI cases.


These professionals have the knowledge, expertise, and resources to navigate personal injury law. They can advocate on behalf of head injury victims.


Medical Expenses

It's essential to document all medical expenses related to the contrecoup injury. This includes securing hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, medication expenses, and other healthcare services needed for the patient's treatment and recovery.


The documentation shows the economic damages incurred due to the coup-contrecoup injury and helps calculate compensation.


Non-economic Damages

Coup and contrecoup injury victims can also get compensation for non-economic damages. These include the following:


  • Pain and suffering

  • Emotional distress

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Loss of consortium.


Such damages reflect the intangible losses the victim and their loved ones suffer from as a result of the contrecoup brain injury.


Long-term Care Needs

Coup injuries often need long-term care and support, including ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation therapy, and home modifications to accommodate the victim's needs.


It's essential to factor in long-term care needs. This ensures the patient receives appropriate financial support for their future care and well-being.


Prevent Coup-contrecoup Injury Cases During Motor Vehicle Accidents

Prevent Coup-contrecoup Injury Cases During Motor Vehicle Accidents


Automobile crashes are a leading cause of head trauma. Coup-contrecoup injuries occur when the brain sustains damage at the site of impact and the opposite side of the brain.


While accidents can happen unexpectedly, there are steps motorists can take to reduce the risk of sustaining these serious injuries.


  • Wearing Seatbelts Properly

Putting on seatbelts is one of the most effective ways to prevent damages in a motor vehicle accident, including coup-contrecoup injuries.


The lap belt should be snugly secured across the hips, and the shoulder belt should be positioned across the chest and shoulder, away from the neck.


  • Using Child Restraints

Regarding young passengers, using appropriate child restraints, such as car seats, booster seats, and seat belts, is essential for their safety in a motor vehicle.


Motorists must follow the manufacturer's guidelines for correctly installing and using child restraints based on the child's age, weight, and height.


Properly secured child restraints can significantly reduce the risk of a coup-contrecoup injury and other types of traumas in the event of a crash.


  • Avoiding Distractions

Distracted driving contributes to car crashes, increasing the likelihood of collisions and injuries. Automobilists must avoid texting, talking on the phone, and eating.


  • Avoiding Driving Under the Influence

Intoxicated driving impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This increases the chances of accidents, including coup-contrecoup brain injury cases.


Motorists should never drive while impaired. They should also designate a sober driver or use alternative transportation if they plan to consume alcohol or medication that may affect their ability to drive safely.


  • Maintaining Vehicle Safety

Regular maintenance and inspection of the vehicle are essential for ensuring its safety and reliability on the road.


Drivers should regularly check the brakes, tires, lights, and other critical components and address any issues immediately.


Final Words


In the chaotic seconds of an impact, the body jerks forward, propelled by the force of the collision. Car crashes can cause life-changing injuries, with brain injury cases being the most severe.


What makes contrecoup injuries unique is their counterintuitive nature. Unlike direct impact wounds, where damage appears at the impact site, contrecoup injuries surface on the opposite side.


Brain injuries can have long-lasting effects on the patient's life, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life. Fortunately, victims and their families can recover compensation from the insurance company.


Stating, "We Go to War for You," the qualified lawyers at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys carefully calculate the full extent of the victim's damages. They can ensure the plaintiff recovers fair compensation for their economic and non-economic losses.

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