Brain injury is the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 45. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) ruins lives and debilitates millions of people. TBI occurs every 15 seconds. Approximately 5 million Americans currently suffer some form of TBI disability. The leading causes of TBI are motor vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries. In a brain injury scenario there are two actions (coup and contrecoup) wherein the brain is impacted and the force of the blow jerks the brain back into the rear of the head causing a second trauma.
The brain is vulnerable to traumatic damage in two ways. The cerebral cortex can become bruised – contused – when the head strikes a hard object (or a hard objects strikes the head). Or, the deep white matter can suffer diffuse axonal injury when the head is whiplashed without hitting a hard object (or being hit by one). In serious whiplash injuries, the axons are stretched so much that they are damaged.