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a doctor reviews an open-head injury x-ray | Colling Gilbert Wright

Open Head Injury vs. Closed Head Injury

An open-head injury or closed-head injury can change an accident victim’s life forever. Head injuries are among the most serious of all forms of accident-related trauma. While doctors generally classify head injuries as mild, moderate, or severe, the reality is that all head injuries present risks for long-term complications. This includes all types of open-head injuries and closed-head injuries.

The Orlando brain injury lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright have helped accident victims throughout Florida for years. If you suffered a head injury because of someone’s negligent actions, we want to hear your story. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses.

What Is the Difference Between an Open Head Injury and a Closed Head Injury? 

Along with classification as either mild, moderate, or severe, head injuries can also be classified as either “open” or “closed.” So, what’s the difference? 

Open Head Injuries

A head injury is classified as “open” if an object fractures the skull and pierces the brain. While gunshots are among the most common causes of open head injuries, these injuries can also result from severe trauma in the event of a vehicle collision or other serious accident. Open head injuries can cause serious damage to the brain, and they will present mortality risks in many cases. 

When open-head injuries are not fatal, victims can face a long and difficult road to recovery. In many cases, a full recovery will not be possible. Open head trauma can cause permanent brain injuries, and these injuries can have non-fatal effects ranging from sleep disturbances and memory loss to cognitive disabilities and coma. 

All open-head injuries are classified as severe injuries. They require immediate medical intervention, and emergency surgery will often be necessary. 

Closed Head Injuries 

In contrast to a closed head injury, an open head injury is any form of head trauma that does not involve a skull fracture and brain penetration. Closed head injuries can result from:

  • Blunt-force trauma to the head (i.e., hitting your head on a car window or on the ground during a fall); 
  • Violent forward-to-back movement of the head (i.e., due to whiplash during a front-end or rear-end collision); or, 
  • Violent shaking or rattling of the head due to external trauma.

Closed head injuries can also take many different forms. When experiencing symptoms of a closed head injury after an accident, it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis promptly. Different types of closed head injuries require different forms of treatment—and obtaining appropriate treatment can be critical for mitigating the risk of long-term effects. The types of closed-head injuries that can result from traumatic accidents include:

  • Concussions
  • Contusions
  • Coup-contrecoup injuries 
  • Diffuse axonal injuries
  • Hemorrhages 
  • Hematomas 

While closed head injuries can have a variety of effects (as discussed below), one of the most substantial risks associated with a concussion or other closed head injury is the risk of second impact syndrome. When the brain is healing from an injury, it is in a compromised state. Suffering a second head injury during recovery can multiply the impacts of the trauma, and it can even prove fatal in some cases. As a result, when accident victims suffer closed head injuries, rest is often a key component of the recovery process. 

Similarities Between Open Head Injuries and Closed Head Injuries

While open-head injuries and closed-head injuries are different in terms of the types of trauma involved, they also have some important similarities. For example, they present risks for many of the same long-term effects. While the effects of individual injuries can vary widely, both open-head injuries and closed-head injuries can present risks for:

  • Cognitive impairments (including impairment of abilities such as communication, perception, and judgment)
  • Developmental delays or complications in children
  • Memory loss
  • Paralysis and other physical effects 
  • Personality changes and psychological effects (including anxiety, depression, and mood swings)
  • Vision, hearing, and speech impairments 

As discussed above, open-head injuries and closed-head injuries can also both present risks for death. While mild and moderate closed-head injuries generally do not entail mortality risks, second-impact syndrome is a very real concern for accident victims who suffer concussions and other types of brain trauma. As a result, all brain injury victims need to make sure they receive all necessary treatment, they need to carefully follow their doctors’ advice, and they should work with an experienced attorney to make sure they seek the maximum compensation available for the financial and non-financial costs of their trauma.

Speak with an Orlando Brain Injury Lawyer for FREE

Have you or a loved one suffered a head injury in an accident in Florida? If so, it is important that you speak with a lawyer about your legal rights. 

For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with a Florida head injury lawyer, please call (800) 766-1000 or tell us how we can reach you online today.

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