Brain injury

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For the scientific journal on brain injuries, see Brain Injury (journal).
Not to be confused with Nerve injury.
A CT of the head years after a traumatic brain injury showing an empty space where the damage occurred marked by the arrow.

A brain injury is any injury occurring in the brain of a living organism. Brain injuries can be classified along several dimensions. Primary and secondary brain injury are ways to classify the injury processes that occur in brain injury, while focal and diffuse brain injury are ways to classify the extent or location of injury in the brain. Specific forms of brain injury include:

  • Brain damage, the destruction or degeneration of brain cells.
  • Traumatic brain injury, damage that occurs when an outside force traumatically injures the brain.
  • Stroke, a vascular event causing damage in the brain.
  • Acquired brain injury, damage to the brain that occurs after birth, regardless of whether it is traumatic or nontraumatic, or whether due to an outside or internal cause.


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Management of Brain Injury

    Diagnostic tools to evaluate brain structure include CT and MRI scans. In addition, a PET scan (Positron emission tomography) is available in some trauma centers. Until diagnostic testing has proven otherwise, it should be speculated that a cervical spinal injury has occurred. The patient should be immobilized and transported on a board. The head and neck should be maintained in alignment with the axis of the body. Until cervical spine x-rays have been obtained and the absence of a cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) verified, a cervical collar should be applied. 
   The goal of all therapy is to preserve brain homeostasis and prevent secondary brain injury. Secondary brain injury is an injury to the brain occurring after the original traumatic event. Stabilization of cardiovascular and respiratory function is the required treatment. The overall purpose is to maintain adequate cerebral perfusion, control hemorrhage and  hypovolemia (a decreased volume of circulating blood in the body), and maintain optimal blood gas values.


  1. ^ Hinkle and Cheever (2014). "Brunner & Suddarth's Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing", p. 2000. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Pennsylvania. ISBN 1451146663.