Understanding your diffuse axonal injury

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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While you may be familiar with brain injuries caused by impact, one you may not be as familiar with is the brain injury caused by sheering. Known as a diffuse axonal injury, or DAI, this injury happens when the brain’s long connective tissues and nerve fibers are torn as the brain rotates inside the skull.

This is a serious form of brain injury and one that requires emergency medical care. Here’s a little bit more that you should know about a DAI.

The impact of a diffuse axonal injury

A diffuse axonal injury is particularly harmful because of the tearing that takes place across the brain. It often impacts multiple parts of the brain, causing brain injury to various portions of the brain simultaneously. This kind of injury generally results in a coma and can be hard to diagnose because of the microscopic tears that are not always evident during a magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scan.

What are some possible symptoms of a diffuse axonal injury?

The primary symptom is a coma from extensive brain injury. Other possible symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Apathy
  • Problems with organization
  • Irritability
  • Epilepsy
  • Impaired abilities
  • Alexia
  • Aphasia

The good news is that the brain may be able to recover following an injury. While brain cells that are destroyed or damaged may not heal themselves in all cases, there are other ways for the brain to compensate. The brain may reroute information and function through undamaged areas, giving you back the functions you once lost due to injury.

Keep in mind that a severe injury has no set pattern for recovery. Some patients may recover quickly, while others take months or years to show any progress at all. For someone with a severe brain injury, there is a high likelihood that they will need long-term care and treatment along with rehabilitation services.

If you or a loved one has suffered from this kind of injury, know that there is no set timeframe for your recovery. While most recovery happens within the first few years of an injury, many people do recover over time with the support of therapists and treatment plans. Anyone who struggles with a long-term injury like this as a result of another person should look into getting appropriate compensation, because caring for a long-term and serious brain injury is expensive and can result in a need for care for many years to come.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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