Any wound that pierces the skull can cause an open head injury to the brainTraumatic brain injuries can be classified as open head injuries or closed head injuries. An open head injury, as the name suggests, occurs when the head is open. In other words, something has broken or penetrated the skull and often the brain tissue around the break or penetration site is damaged.

Different Types of Open Head Injuries

Open head injuries occur when a sharp object breaks through the skull. For example, bullet wounds to the head or face may shatter part of the skull and expose brain tissue. Such an injury may occur if a property owner failed to provide adequate security on his property. Skull penetration can also occur in the course of a motor vehicle crash or slip and fall.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, open head injuries can be described as follows:

  • Depressed skull fracture. In this type of brain injury, a broken piece of the scalp is pressed in towards the brain.
  • Compound skull fracture. Both the scalp and the skull are hurt in this serious type of brain injury.
  • Basilar skull fracture. Basilar skull fractures occur when there is a break in the neck area, near the base of the skull. Nerves and blood vessels can be significantly damaged.
  • Battle’s sign. This type of fracture occurs near the ear. A victim’s ear, jaw, or neck may appear black and blue. Blood or cerebrospinal fluid may leak out of the ear, and hearing can be damaged.
  • Raccoon eyes. As the name suggests, brain injury victims with raccoon eyes have black and blue areas around the eyes. This occurs because of a break in the anterior cranial fossa. Cerebral spinal fluid can enter the sinuses and nerve damage—specifically to the senses of sight and smell—can occur.
  • Diastatic skull fracture. This type of break occurs in infants and children whose heads are not fully closed yet.
  • Cribiform plate fracture. The cribiform plate is located behind the nose. When it is broken, cerebrospinal fluid from the brain may come out the nose.

Open head injuries are often serious and sometimes fatal. They require immediate medical attention.

Understanding the Prognosis and Recovery From an Open Head Injury

A victim’s physical prognosis depends on the specific area of the brain that was injured, how deep the injury is, and other factors. The fullest possible recovery, however, may include more than a physical recovery. It may also include a legal and financial recovery for things such as lost income, medical expenses, permanent disability, pain, suffering, and other costs. To learn more about this, please call us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced brain injury lawyer.


Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.