Michael Phelan and Jonathan Petty | Virginia Trial Attorneys

Traumatic Brain Injury Glossary of Terms

Abuila: The inability to make decisions, to provide long or detailed responses to questions, slow reactions, and lack of willpower.
Anosogosia: A phenomenon that describes a person’s inability to recognize or understand his deficits.
Anoxia: The lack of oxygen to the brain, which can cause brain damage and brain death.
Aphasia: The inability to understand language or to speak. Aphasia is caused by lesions in the language area of the dominant cerebral hemisphere.
Ataxia: This condition is related to damage to the brain and causes difficulties with muscle coordination.
Brain Plasticity: The brain’s ability to have unused parts of the brain take over functions normally done by the areas of the brain that are damaged.
Closed–Head Injury: It occurs when the soft tissue of the brain is forced into contact with the hard, bony, outer covering of the brain, the skull.
Concussion: A brain injury that alters the way the brain functions. It can occur from a blow to the head, but may also occur from a violent shaking or acceleration-deceleration of the head. Most concussions occur without being knocked unconscious. Repetitive brain injury or concussion may cause permanent damage to the brain.
Coup-Contrecoup lesions: In a sudden concussive injury, there is an acceleration and then a necessary deceleration of the skull. The brain, which is floating inside the skull and is a jello-like consistency, naturally continues to accelerate, lagging behind the skull’s movement. This rapid acceleration-deceleration causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull, especially in the frontal and temporal regions which are important in controlling behavior, memory, and personality. If the brain is injured on the area directly beneath the point of the brain’s impact with the skull, the lesion is called a “coup” lesion. If the brain is injured on the side of the brain opposite the site of the impact, the lesion is a “contrecoup” lesion.
Cranial Nerves: There are 12 cranial nerves that originate within the brain and brainstem and exit the skull to innervate the head and neck.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI): The stretching and tearing or shearing of axons characterized by injury to the brain’s white matter. DAI is not detected by typical neuroimaging techniques.
Dysarthia: Difficulty pronouncing words.
Dysphasia: Impaired speech and comprehension of speech.
Edema: A fluid buildup that causes swelling.
Emotional Lability: Describes mood swings that can occur rapidly and without apparent reason.
Glascow Coma Scale: A widely used numerical scale designed to assess a person’s level of consciousness following an acute trauma.
Hematoma: The buildup of blood in the tissues that occurs after an injury.
Hippocampus: An area of the brain responsible for memory storage. Even mild damage to this area can cause considerable memory loss.
Hypoxia: An insufficient amount of oxygen to the organs.
Intracranial Pressure: Pressure that occurs in the brain from cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain.
Locked-in Syndrome: A paralyzed state that the brain injury victim cannot communicate or move, but is awake and completely aware of their surroundings or activity.
Persistent Vegetative State: This is an ongoing condition, but not a comatose state, in which the patient cannot move or speak audibly.
Seizure: The uncontrolled movements of the body due to the discharge of nerve energy that causes convulsions. It can also cause loss of consciousness and in the brain injury victim can cause behavioral changes.
Post-concussion Syndrome (PCS): The name of a group of signs and symptoms that often appear after a mild traumatic brain injury. They include one or more of the following: headaches, dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, diminished hearing, blurred vision, double vision, hypersensitivity to light and/or sound, convergence insufficiency, reduced taste or smell, irritability, anxiety, depression, personality change, fatigue, sleep disturbance, reduced libido, decreased appetite, impaired memory, concentration, and attention, decreased reaction time, and reduced information processing speed.
Post-traumatic Amnesia (PTA): refers to the condition in which the person is unable to recall day-to-day events after the injury. The amnesia is thought to be a direct result of diffuse damage to brain tissue from the shearing forces of acceleration-deceleration. Anterograde amnesia is the inability to consolidate information about ongoing events. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to recall information concerning the time before the traumatic injury.

To discuss your legal rights and remedies, please contact the Virginia traumatic brain injury attorneys at Phelan | Krudys | Petty, PLC.