Which Kinds of Car Accidents Cause Traumatic Brain Injuries?

A new study from aerospace and mechanical engineering professor Samy Missoum details a new way of calculating the probability of a TBI because of a car accident. University of Arizona researchers are developing a tool to figure out the chances of traumatic brain injury following a car collision. Automobile crashes are the most frequent cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths associated with traumatic brain injury among individuals aged 15 to 34, according to a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, constitutes about 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States, and early identification and treatment are among the many new ways to prevent these deaths.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

TBI is an injury to the brain caused by a blow or jolt to the head from a blunt or penetrating trauma. The harm that happens at the moment of impact is called the primary injury. Primary injuries can involve a particular lobe of the brain or may affect the whole brain. Sometimes the skull might be fractured, but not necessarily.

During the impact of an accident, the brain crashes back and forth within the head resulting in bruising, bleeding, and tearing of nerve fibers. Immediately after the crash, the individual may be confused, not recall what occurred, have blurred vision and dizziness, or eliminate consciousness.

At first, the individual may appear fine, but their condition can diminish rapidly. After the first impact occurs, the brain undergoes a delayed injury causing it to swell and push itself against the skull and decreasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood. This is known as secondary injury, which can be more detrimental than Primary injury.

Common Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • A concussion is a moderate head injury that could cause a brief loss of consciousness and does not cause permanent brain injury.
  • A contusion is a bruise to a particular region of the brain caused by an impact to the head; also known as coup or contrecoup injuries. In coup injuries, the brain is injured right beneath the region of impact, while in contrecoup injuries it is injured on the side opposite the impact.
  • Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is shearing and stretching of the nerve cells at the cellular level. It happens when the brain quickly goes back and forth inside the skull, tearing and damaging the nerve axons. Axons connect one nerve cell to another throughout the brain, like cables. Widespread axonal injury disrupts the brain’s normal transmission of data and may lead to substantial changes in someone’s wakefulness.
  • Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (tSAH) is bleeding into the space that surrounds the brain. This space usually is full of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which functions as a floating cushion to protect the brain. Traumatic SAH occurs when small arteries tear during the first injury. The blood spreads across the surface of the brain resulting in widespread effects.
  • Hematoma is a blood clot that forms when a blood vessel ruptures. Blood that escapes the standard bloodstream starts to thicken and clot. Clotting is the body’s natural way to stop the bleeding. A hematoma may be little, or it can grow big and compress the brain. Symptoms vary depending upon the location of the clot. A clot that forms between the skull and the dura lining of the brain is known as an epidural hematoma. A clot that forms between the brain and the dura is called a subdural hematoma. A clot that forms deep inside the brain tissue itself is called an intracerebral hematoma. Over time the body reabsorbs the clot. Occasionally surgery is performed to eliminate large clots.


New research details a developed method for calculating the probability of a TBI in Car Accidents.

Aerospace and mechanical engineering professor Samy Missoum, who is also director of the Computational Design Optimization of Engineering Systems, or CODES Laboratory, and graduate student Seyed Saeed Ahmadisoleymani recently released a whitepaper in Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering that details a new method for calculating the likelihood of a TBI Because of a car accident.

“Unlike with American football or military applications, there hasn’t been much research done to the link between car crashes and TBI,” Missoum stated. “We’ve developed the 1st steps of a method to assess the probability of TBI based on crash conditions, such as impact velocity and angle.”

TBI research has traditionally included experimental procedures, like conducting tests on animals or collecting data on football players. Other approaches are purely computational, like using finite element models, which are mathematical tools to predict how a system such as a brain will behave when exposed to external forces.

Missoum’s approach fuses experimental and computational data. He uses computational techniques to simulate the way the dummy moves in a car crash and applies movement data from the simulation into a computer model of the brain to understand how it would be impacted. Then, experimental information is combined with the simulation results to predict the chance of TBI. This fusion of information provides the foundation for a method researchers to compute the probability of TBI following a car crash.

The method may even make predictions if researchers are not sure about the collision angle and speed of impact, or if they don’t have much info about the brain of the individual involved in the crash.

“From a scientific point of view, the novelty here’s how we are combining computational data and experimental data, while also accounting for many sources of uncertainty,” Missoum stated. “From a practical point of view, the method provides a tool to find out the probability of TBI.”

The work is in early stages, but one aim of the project is for first responders to have the ability to arrive at the scene of an accident and enter the info about the crash into a tool, maybe a mobile program, which will determine the likelihood of a TBI straight away.

“Let us say a paramedic arrives at the scene of a car accident,” Missoum stated. “They could enter the data into a tool and say, ‘OK, based on the characteristics of the accident, this man or woman will have a 70-80 percent likelihood of severe traumatic brain injury’.

Getting into a car crash either will cause a traumatic brain injury or it won’t.


The researchers used a machine learning approach previously developed in the CODES Laboratory to refine the threshold separating the two results and more accurately determine the risk of TBI. In the long run, this strategy will improve accuracy further by increasing the number of variables it can consider, like the weight of the car or the age of the occupant.

The research team expects to incorporate data from real car crashes, obtained from the Arizona Department of Transportation, into their research. Information such as the angle of impact in an accident isn’t available in current crash reports, making this method’s ability to make calculations using a level of uncertainty especially significant.

What are the signs of a TBI and Do I Need an Attorney sustaining after one?

In case you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you want to someone who can stand up for you, protect your rights and fight for what’s fair. Based on the type and location of the injury, the person’s symptoms might include:


You will want to contact a California brain injury attorney with the expertise you and your family need. The lawyer will have the ability to help in determining if you’re entitled to compensatory damages for your injuries from those accountable as a result of at-fault, negligent, reckless or aggressive drivers or by other means like faulty parts, defective or recalled automobile or automotive design flaws. These include the price of medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Victims may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant for their reckless behavior in the event of automotive negligence/ liability claims. Meet TBI Tina, Arash Law’s lead attorney in brain injury accidents.




  1. ‘… deaths associated with traumatic brain injury among individuals… ‘ from “Brain Strains in Vehicle Impact Tests” by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine  |  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3217492
  2. ‘…experimental information is combined with the simulation results to predict the chance of TBI…’ from “Which Car Crashes Cause Traumatic Brain Injury?” by the UA College of Engineering  |  https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/which-car-crashes-cause-traumatic-brain-injury
  3. ‘…bleeding into the space that surrounds the brain…’ from “About Subarachnoid Hemorrhage” by the UCLA Neurosurgery  |  http://neurosurgery.ucla.edu/subarachnoid-hemorrhage
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DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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