What is a Coup Contrecoup Brain Injury?
Numerous accidents and situations can result in brain injuries. A blow to the head can cause severe damage to the brain at the site of the blow. It can also cause damage to other areas of the brain.
However, you do not have to receive a blow to the head to sustain a brain injury. A strong jolt that causes your head or neck to move violently or snap back and forth can also cause a brain injury. Because severe brain damage could result in permanent impairments or life-threatening conditions, it is wise to see a doctor as soon as possible after any accident or incident that could result in a brain injury.
What Are Coup Contrecoup Brain Injuries?
Before discussing coup contrecoup brain injuries, it can help understand how contrecoup and coup brain injuries occur.
How Do Coup Brain Injuries Occur?
A coup brain injury occurs when you receive a blow to the head. For example, your head might strike the window or steering wheel in a car accident. Your head could strike the floor in a slip and fall accident, or a piece of flying debris could hit your head during a truck accident.
The damage to the brain is directly beneath the blow to the head. It can be difficult to diagnose a coup brain injury because there may not be an outward sign of injury to the head. However, the brain could swell or bleed at the site of injury.
How Do Contrecoup Brain Injuries Occur?
A contrecoup brain injury is an injury to the opposite side of the brain from the blow. The brain shifts violently within the skull, striking the opposite side of the skull. The result can include bleeding, swelling, nerve damage, and tissue damage.
Because doctors may be focused on the side of the head that received the blow, they may not immediately diagnose the contrecoup brain injury. Without treatment, the person could sustain permanent brain damage and life-threatening conditions.
How Do Coup Contrecoup Brain Injuries Occur?
This type of brain injury occurs in the same way as other brain injuries. However, the brain damage occurs on both sides of the brain.
For example, a person is struck on the head at a construction site. He sustains brain damage at the site of impact. However, the force of the blow to the head causes the brain to strike the skull on the opposite side of the blow, causing an injury at the site directly across from the blow.
The damage to the brain could be more severe on one side than on the other side. Because the different areas of the brain control different body functions, numerous bodily functions can be impaired from a coup contrecoup brain injury.
A comprehensive treatment plan must be developed that addresses the damage at all locations and the effects of the damage on the rest of the body.
How Do Doctors Diagnose a Coup Contrecoup Brain Injury?
After an accident, doctors perform a variety of tests to determine whether you sustained a brain injury. The tests also determine the severity of the brain injury, which dictates the treatment plan.
When diagnosing a brain injury, a doctor performs a physical examination. The physical examination can determine whether the person’s physical or cognitive functions are impaired. Most exams begin with rating the patient on the Glasgow Coma Scale.
Depending on what the doctor determines, he may order a CT scan or MRI to help identify the damage to the brain and the areas of the brain affected by the injury. In cases of swelling, probes may be inserted into the skull to monitor the swelling. Shunts can be used to relieve swelling in some cases.
After the patient is stabilized, further testing may be necessary. The doctor may order cognition, speech, language, and neuropsychological tests to assess brain damage.
Long-Term Effects of a Coup Contrecoup Brain Injury
The severity of the brain injury and prompt medical treatment are factors in the long-term effects of a coup contrecoup brain injury. Potential effects a person might experience after a coup contrecoup brain injury include, but are not limited to:
- Sensory problems
- Vegetative state or coma
- Emotional and behavioral changes
- Chronic headaches
- Problems with executive, cognitive, and intellectual functions
- Increased risk of some degenerative brain diseases, such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease
- Emotional and behavioral changes
The cost of diagnosing and treating coup contrecoup brain injuries can be expensive. Depending on the severity of the injury, a person may require ongoing medical and personal care. The person’s ability to earn an income could be significantly impacted.
Patients that recover from coup contrecoup brain injuries may do so only after significant medical treatment, long-term rehabilitative care, and various therapy treatments. Many patients also undergo counseling to deal with the emotional and mental trauma caused by a brain injury.