What is a Brain Contusion?

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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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An injury to the brain that occurs in the absence of bleeding but results in bruising is known as a brain contusion. Resulting from the impact created by the brain being jarred into contact with the inside of the skull, a brain contusion may occur due to a variety of situations. Treatment for a brain contusion is entirely dependent on the severity and location of the injury and may range from simple bed rest to surgery.

Brain contusions generally result from the impact an abrupt, violent incident may trigger. Though the brain is cushioned in its position, any abrupt disruption to the surrounding fluid or jarring of the head can cause the brain to momentarily slip out of position and bump against the inside of the skull. Individuals who sustain head trauma in an automobile accident, fall, or due to an act of violence may develop a brain contusion due to the sudden, forceful stop the initial impact causes. Brain contusions, or bruising, are also a common injury sustained during warfare or in the presence of loud explosions due to the thrust with which the pressure from the blast passes through the individual’s head if he or she is nearby.


Anyone who sustains a head injury should be checked out by a physician as soon as possible to evaluate his or her condition due to the precarious situation such an injury may pose. Symptoms associated with brain trauma may manifest immediately or progress with time, initially presenting as mild but quickly adopting a more severe presentation. During an initial evaluation, the individual may be asked a variety of questions and be given specific instructions to follow that may assess his or her cognitive abilities, a standardized testing method known as the Glasgow Coma Scale. A variety of diagnostic tests may also be utilized to evaluate the individual’s condition, including a computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If the contusion is suspected of inducing swelling, an intracranial pressure monitor may be employed to evaluate the condition of the brain and remove any accumulated fluid at the location of impact.

Mild brain bruising often results in temporary confusion, headache, and possibly a momentary loss of consciousness. Other signs of mild trauma may include impaired sensory perception, temporary confusion or amnesia, and personality changes. If the initial impact results in swelling, additional signs of more serious bruising may include impaired speech, seizure, and persistent nausea, vomiting and headache. Though symptom manifestation is generally patterned in its presentation, depending on their age, children who sustain a brain contusion may present a bit differently with their symptoms. Some may exhibit accentuated crankiness, a loss of appetite, or pronounced behavioral and sleep changes.

Most mild brain contusions will heal independently with sufficient rest and the use of an over-the-counter (OTC) analgesic medication to alleviate any discomfort. Individuals who have sustained more moderate to severe bruising may be placed on additional medications, including diuretics and anticonvulsants, to alleviate fluid accumulation and reduce his or her chance for seizure. Individuals who sustain a significant brain contusion may be purposely placed in a coma or undergo extensive surgery and therapy. The presence of a fracture, blood clot, or extensive swelling may also necessitate a surgical procedure to stabilize the individual’s condition and improve his or her prognosis.

There are significant complications associated with a brain contusion that may compromise the individual’s ability to function normally. Those who have sustained significant bruising may develop seizures, impaired cognition, or nerve damage that results in temporary or permanent paralysis. It has also been asserted that those who sustain brain trauma may be at an increased risk for developing progressive debilitating diseases that affect the nervous system and cognitive function, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.


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Post 1

Very useful information. my son was hit by a car and suffered brain contusions and was transferred to a different hospital where there was a neurological team on hand and who tested his responses hourly.

We got good news 24 hours later. They were pleased with his responses and hopefully the panic is over, and apart from broken bones, cuts and bruises he will not need any operations. He is a very lucky boy!

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