Understanding Your Brain Injury


What Does My Brain Injury Look Like?

Sometimes it can be frustrating to heal from a TBI since you can't see the injury. The CT scan will show where your brain is injured and how bad the injury is. Click on your diagnosis below to see what your injury may look like on CT. Please know that EVERY bleed is different, so your injury will not be identical to those shown below.


  • Subdural Hemorrhage

    This is a Subdural Hemorrhage (SDH). When blood collects between the outermost membranes surrounding your brain, it takes the shape of a crescent. This often happens when veins that cross this area are torn. This type of bleeding requires close monitoring. If the bleeding continues or the clot grows larger, it may require an operation to remove the blood and relieve the pressure on your brain.

    Subdural Hematoma Bleed




  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

    This is Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH). When you have a SAH bleed, the bleeding occurs closer to the delicate brain tissue, in the innermost layers covering the brain. These layers are weak, so the bleeding takes an irregular shape around the brain. Because these layers are fragile, and the bleeding occurs deeper in the skull, an operation to remove this blood is not likely to help.

    Subarachnoid Hemo

  • Intraparenchymal Hemorrhage

    This is an Intraparenchymal Hemorrhage (IPH). This bleeding occurs inside of your brain. An IPH is a severe injury because there are no layers that separate your brain from that blood that collects within it. On CT, this bleeding will look like a collection of blood. This blood can cause your brain to 'shift' and damage your brain from the inside out. It commonly occurs in more than one area of the brain after a traumatic injury.

    Intraparenchymal Hemorrhage

  • Epidural Hemorrhage

    This is an Epidural Hemorrhage (EDH). This bleeding occurs between your skull and the outermost membrane that protects your brain. Bleeding that occurs between these layers is often described as a "lens" shaped on CT. Arterial bleeding is often the cause of this injury. Depending on the amount of blood, an operation may be required to remove the clot.

    Epidural Hemorrhage

  • Intraventricular Hemorrhage

    This is an Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH). The ventricles are spaces in your brain where the protective fluid (called cerebrospinal fluid) is made. Damage to the small arteries around the ventricles is usually the cause of this type of injury. On a CT scan, your doctor may identify blood inside the ventricles. When there is blood in this area, there is often bleeding in other parts of your brain. It may require the placement of an external ventricle drain (called an EVD) to relieve the pressure on your brain.

    Intraventricular Hemorrhage


What Is A TBI?

A Traumatic Brain Injury is not like any other injury. You can't see it, and it can sometimes be challenging to understand what is wrong. The brain is so complex, and when it is injured, the results can be devastating. We want you to understand your injury and be prepared for the rehabilitation it will require.

The emotional effect it can have on your life, and your loved ones is not something you need to face alone. There are people that want to help, so please be familiar with the TBI resources available and ask for the help you need.

For the survivor, a TBI can be a silent thief. It can steal time, memories, friends, jobs, and sometimes even spouses. For survivors and their families, patience, hope, resilience, and understanding are necessary to heal. To a parent, the diagnosis of a TBI can be a roller coaster ride. Every day can bring a new emotion. Some days will be scary and unpredictable, while others may be extremely sad or bring feelings of anger. Be patient and know that this is a very long road to recovery.

During the hospital stay, it is so important to stay optimistic yet realistic. Broken bones will heal relatively quickly, but the brain has its own timetable for healing. Our trauma staff is here to help guide you through this challenging time in your life and help you stay positive. We want you to understand your brain injury and be prepared for the future!

What Can Cause A TBI?

  • Vehicle Collisions
  • Motorcycle Collisions
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • ATV Accidents
  • Skateboarding Accidents
  • Sports-Related Injuries
  • Falls (fall from standing or from height)
  • Assaults
  • Getting hit by a car while walking or riding your bike
  • Boating Accidents
  • Gunshot
  • Potentially any trauma to your head

How Is My Brain Injured? I Look Fine!

When the brain hits the skull, it can cause bruising (your doctors will sometimes call these contusions) or bleeding (hemorrhage), and nerves can tear. There doesn't have to be a huge cut on your skin or fractures (broken bones) in the skull for the brain to be injured. If you lose consciousness, your brain has been injured severely enough to cause trouble. The severity of your injury can depend on many things; how hard you hit your head, your age, and what medications you have been taking. What part of the brain is injured and how much bleeding occurs can also affect your outcome.

An intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) occurs when there is bleeding within your skull. There are thin layers of tissue that separate your skull from your brain and the protective fluid that it sits in. An ICH can cause various symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, agitation, and even coma and death. Your doctor will order a CT scan when your injury or symptoms are concerning for a TBI. Depending on where the bleeding occurs, the hematoma (clot) can form a variety of shapes. The CT scan will help classify the type of brain injury that you have.

Healing is hard, but educating yourself on your brain injury and remaining active in rehabilitation and therapy will make this journey more successful. There are many resources available to you and your family to help support you through this time of healing. Please make sure to participate with these groups to optimize your recovery!

Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center

The MSKTC (Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center) collaborates with researchers from 16 renowned universities and hospitals. The purpose of this organization is to gather cutting-edge research and provide that information to patients. The fact sheets below contain helpful information regarding Traumatic Brain Injuries. Please click the links below to open the Fact Sheets.

Fact Sheets from MSKTC