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What Are the Most Common Causes of Brain Injuries?

Brain injuries can impact every aspect of a person’s life. Suffering damage to the brain’s cells or tissues could affect speech, cognition, motor function, and emotion, often with long-term repercussions. A serious brain injury may leave the patient with permanent symptoms. The brain is one of the most common areas for injuries in many different accident types. Every year, over two million brain-injury related emergency visits and deaths occur in the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recognizing why most brain injuries occur can help you prevent one in Virginia.


Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the United States. In 2014, falls accounted for 48% of all brain injury emergency department visits. Slip and fall accidents can lead to the victim striking his or her head against the floor or an object, such as a stair or a piece of furniture. Fall accidents send around eight million people to emergency rooms in the U.S. annually. Fall-related brain injuries affect children and the elderly the most significantly.

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Falling/Flying Objects

Statistically, the second most common cause of brain injury is the patient getting struck by or struck against an object. Falling objects, such as items falling from a high store shelf, could strike the victim in the head and cause a traumatic brain injury. Flying objects, such as shrapnel in an explosion, can also injure the brain. About 17% of brain-injury related emergency department visits stem from objects striking victims. Struck-by object accidents are especially common in construction, where they accounted for 8.2% of worker deaths in 2017.

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Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents are another top cause of brain injuries. A motor vehicle accident could cause a brain injury if a victim strikes his or her head against an object inside the vehicle, such as a window or the steering wheel. Striking the head against something in a car accident could cause a serious or life-threatening traumatic brain injury. Wearing a helmet as a bicyclist or motorcyclist can reduce the risk of a serious or fatal brain injury in a motor vehicle accident, but these injuries can still occur.

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Sports Accidents

Impacts during contact sports, such as football, can cause traumatic brain injuries to players, especially if they are not wearing helmets. Blows to the head from sports equipment such as balls and pucks can also cause brain injuries. Other sports-related brain injuries have arisen from swimmers diving into shallow pools and striking their heads against the bottoms. Permitting a player to continue playing too soon after a brain injury could cause an even more serious brain injury, known as a second-impact syndrome.

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Physical Violence

Physical violence such as punching someone in the skull, striking someone with a blunt object, shooting someone or stabbing someone could also cause head and brain injuries. In these cases, the assailant could be liable for the victim’s damages. Self-harm is also a top cause of brain injuries in the U.S, responsible for the most traumatic-brain-injury related deaths (33%) in 2014.

Acquired Brain Injuries

Brain injuries do not only stem from traumatic blows to the head. Some brain injuries arise from internal problems, such as lack of oxygen to the brain. These are acquired brain injuries. Acquired brain injuries can be just as damaging as traumatic, inflicting serious and often permanent damage on the victim. Acquired brain injuries can come from many different causes.

  • Hypoxia
  • Accidental drowning
  • Suffocation or asphyxiation
  • Strangulation
  • Anesthesia mistakes
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Birth injuries
  • Tumors or cancer

The risk factors for acquired brain injuries differ from traumatic brain injuries. Avoiding both types takes awareness, vigilance, and caution. Knowing what causes most brain injuries could help you or your family members avoid dangerous situations. If you do suffer any type of brain injury in Virginia, contact a Richmond brain injury attorney for assistance with bringing a claim. Someone else may owe you compensation for negligently or intentionally causing your brain injury.

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