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What Are Coup and Contrecoup Brain Injuries?


All brain injuries are serious. The brain contains delicate neurons that transmit signals to the rest of the body. Any injury to the brain – major or minor – could interrupt this complex signaling system and cause long-term brain damage. Different types of brain injuries come with different symptoms, effects and prognoses for recovery. A coup-contrecoup brain injury is one of many potential types of traumatic brain injuries.

what are coup and countercoup brain injuries

The Anatomy of Coup and Contrecoup Brain Injuries

A coup-contrecoup brain injury consists of two separate brain injuries: a coup and a contrecoup. A coup injury is where the initial impact or blow to the head occurred and injured the brain. It is a brain injury at the point of impact. A contrecoup brain injury is a phenomenon that also results from trauma but occurs at a place that is not the actual impact site. A contrecoup brain injury often exists on the opposite side of the brain.


A contrecoup brain injury occurs due to the brain rebounding off another part of the skull after the initial impact. The first blow to the head can not only cause the coup injury but also jolt the brain enough to make it strike the opposite side of the skull. This can cause a contrecoup injury. Coup-contrecoup injuries are typically contusions, or bruises to the brain’s tissues. The acceleration and deceleration of an incident can cause a lesion to the anterior side of the brain as well as to the posterior side in the rebound. Coup-contrecoup injuries can also be lateral or side-to-side.


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Common Causes of Coup-Contrecoup Injuries

Many different traumatic accidents can cause a contusion to the brain in the form of a coup or contrecoup injury. Most of these accidents are preventable and arise out of negligence. The most common accidents are car crashes, falls, sports and blunt force trauma. Blunt force trauma can come from an object falling and striking the skull, debris from an explosion, a flying object at a sports game, a physical assault, or a gunshot wound.


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Symptoms and Diagnosis

If you sustain a coup and/or contrecoup brain injury, you could notice immediate or delayed symptoms. Many traumatic brain injuries have hidden or delayed symptoms, especially when the adrenaline from the accident masks initial pain. A contusion on one or more parts of the brain could cause a variety of possible symptoms.


  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Headache
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensory changes
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Coma


If you notice any potential signs of a brain injury, go to the hospital right away. Prompt diagnosis and treatment could improve your recovery. A doctor may need to use a physical examination and/or x-rays to diagnose your brain injury. Recommended treatments may include rest, pain medications, rehabilitation, therapy and surgeries. The prognosis for a patient with a coup-contrecoup injury depends greatly on the extent of the injury.

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Do You Have a Brain Injury?

File a Claim for Damages

If you have a coup-contrecoup brain injury or another type of brain contusion from an accident in Virginia, you may have grounds to file a damage claim against one or multiple at-fault parties. The party that caused your brain injury could be liable for damages. A successful personal injury claim could lead to compensation for many related losses.

  • Past and future medical care
  • Long-term or around-the-clock care
  • Therapies and rehabilitation
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional suffering
  • Cognitive issues
  • Lost quality of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Lost wages and lost earning capacity
  • Punitive damages

The award your lawyer could obtain on your behalf for a coup and contrecoup brain injury could pay for all associated past and future losses – economic and non-economic. If a serious brain injury took the life of your loved one, you may also qualify for wrongful death damages. Speak to an attorney in Virginia about your coup-contrecoup brain injury claim for more information.

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