Brain injuryCoup-Contrecoup Injury

A coup-coutrecoup injury is a form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and more specifically a closed head injury. A closed head injury refers to a TBI in which the head is hit by or strikes an object without breaking the skull.

Brain damage associated with closed head injury may result from back-and-forth movement of the brain against the inside of the bony skull; sometimes called a coup-contrecoup injury. “Coup,” or French for “blow,” refers to the brain injury at the site of trauma. “Contrecoup,” is French for “against the blow” and refers to the brain injury on the opposite side of the brain.  These words together define the back-and-forth movement previously mentioned.

Causes of Coup-Coutrecoup

According to the CDC, in the United States approximately 1.4 million individuals suffer from this type of injury each year. By far, the predominant cause of traumatic brain injury is accidents involving motor vehicles and falls. For example, coup-contrecoup injury may occur in a rear-end collision, with high speed stops causing the brain to be jolted back-and-forth creating two injuries within the skull. Because of the position of the brain within the skull, the frontal lobes (behind the forehead) and temporal lobes (underlying the temples) are most susceptible to this type of damage. These lobes house major brain centers involved in speech and language, so problems with communication skills often follow closed head injuries.

Coup-coutrecoup can happen even if the skull does not hit any surface. The consistency of the brain and the weight of the skull when shaken back-and-forth can cause damage without actually hitting anything on the outside of the head. The fact is, the skull is heavy and hard and when forces cause the brain to move within the skull, the brain can violently hit against the sides causing damage, such as coup-coutrecoup if two areas are affected.

Symptoms of Coup-Coutrecoup

Depending on which areas of the brain are injured, other symptoms of coup-coutrecoup may include:

  • difficulty with concentration
  • memory
  • thinking
  • swallowing
  • walking, balance, and coordination
  • weakness or paralysis
  • changes in sensation
  • alteration of the sense of smell

Treatment of Coup-Coutrecoup

Like a contusion or concussion, coup-coutrecoup doesn’t necessarily require surgery for treatment. The brain needs rest and needs time to heal. However, making sure nothing else inside of the brain was damaged as a cause of the accident, seeking an MRI or a Neuropsychologist would be in your best interest. The problem occurs with coup-coutrecoup is that since it doesn’t require the victim to have hit their head, the patient may not know that they are suffering from a brain injury which can result in further damage to the brain if not properly treated and rest is not administered.

If you or someone you know have experienced a coup-coutrecoup or any other brain injury because of someone else’s negligence, contact Christensen & Hymas at (801) 506-0800 for a free confidential consultation about your case. You may be compensated for the pain endured from the injury.

Image “Contrecoup” copyright by Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator.

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