Coup, contrecoup, and coup-contrecoup are terms used to refer to specific types of traumatic brain injuries caused by blunt force trauma to the head. In these injuries, there is penetration to the head or skull; instead, brains suffer from bruising and internal bleeding due to the impact.
This type of brain injury could occur from:
- Falls off chairs or ladders,
- Car, motorcycle, bicycle, or boating accidents,
- Football, soccer, or other team sports,
- Skiing, or
- Assaults or other violent injury, including violently shaking a baby.
If you suffered a head injury due to blunt force trauma, you should seek immediate medical attention. Even minor blows to the head could lead to dire consequences. Remember, actress Natasha Richardson died from a traumatic brain injury after falling on the bunny slope in 2009.
Definitions, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
Coup brain injuries are found on the side of the head where the injury occurred when the brain is violently jerked towards the injury site.
Contrecoup brain injuries are found on the opposite side of the head from where the injury occurred when the brain quickly moves away from the injury site.
Coup-contrecoup brain injuries are found both on the side where the impact occurred and on the opposite side of the brain. These injuries occur when the brain rapidly moves forward and backward after injury.
Symptoms of this sort of traumatic brain injury include:
- Headaches and dizziness,
- Loss of consciousness,
- Confusion or affected speech,
- Loss of balance or disorientation,
- Nausea, and
- Blurred vision.
Coup brain injuries found directly below the site of impact can be relatively easy to discover through imaging scans. This type of injury is commonly found in the frontal lobe, behind the forehead, or in the temporal lobe, behind the temples.
However, contrecoup brain injuries may remain undiscovered or misdiagnosed, due to their location in the brain, opposite the impact site. Misdiagnosis and failure to treat this sort of traumatic brain injury can result in permanent brain injury, especially if the brain is damaged again or is infected while it is healing from the first injury.
Concussions, which involve bruising or other damage to the brain, are often linked to coup, contrecoup, and coup-contrecoup brain injuries, but not all concussions are caused by this sort of injury.
In addition to bruising or contusions inside the brain, people suffering from coup, contrecoup, and coup-contrecoup brain injuries may also face additional complications, including:
- Brain bleeding, known as a hematoma,
- Brain swelling, and
- Disruption to the fluid surrounding and protecting the brain.
Because this sort of injury can escalate quickly if not caught, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Treatment and Long-Term Effects of Coup, Contrecoup, and Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injuries
Depending on the seriousness of the injury, coup, contrecoup, and coup-contrecoup brain injuries can have long-lasting and permanent consequences.
Certain effects of this sort of traumatic brain injury, including hematomas and brain swelling, should be treated quickly with surgery to repair blood vessels and reduce pressure on the brain and skull. Some symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, and fatigue, may pass on their own with proper rest.
Sadly, other effects, including loss of balance or mental impairment, may not be treatable, resulting in permanent physical and/or mental disabilities. This could involve a need for ongoing rehabilitation, career training, physical and mental therapy, or even a need for round-the-clock medical care.
These permanent changes due to traumatic brain injury create a ripple effect, irrevocably changing the lives not only of the victim but those of his or her family as well. Parents suddenly find themselves the long-term caregivers of their adult children, while married spouses may lose the future they hoped for. Family members who are affected by their loved one’s traumatic brain injury often find themselves needing long-term emotional support and therapy.
Legal Remedies for Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries
If you or a loved one was the victim of a car or motorcycle accident or some other incident that resulted in a coup, contrecoup, or coup-contrecoup traumatic brain injury, you may have experienced not only the physical and emotional devastation in the aftermath of diagnosis, but also the financial difficulties associated with treatment and long-term care.
You and your loved ones may have legal remedies available to ensure both that you can receive the necessary care, and that you have the financial resources to sustain care. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you discover what options offer your best chances of success and are right for your family’s needs.
At the Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman, we have served Santa Rosa since 1957, protecting our clients while they are recovering from traumatic brain injuries. If you suffered a coup or contrecoup brain injury, do not hesitate to contact us at (866) 361-7546 to set up an initial consultation.