What Is a Coup Contrecoup Brain Injury?

Any injury to the brain can cause significant and lasting complications. And while the skull provides some protection to the brain against trauma, the brain is still susceptible to injury in the event of an auto accident, motorcycle wreck, or other accident. 

The consequences of any brain injury can lead to cognitive difficulties, physical limitations, and behavioral changes that can remain long after the initial injury. One of the ways the brain can suffer harm is through a coup contrecoup injury. 

How Your Brain Suffers Damage in a Coup Contrecoup Injury Accident

The terms “coup” and “contrecoup” are both French in origin and translate as “blow” and “counterblow,” respectively. These terms describe the way the brain suffers damage in this specific type of injury: first with an initial trauma, and then with a subsequent event that inflicts secondary trauma.

In a coup contrecoup brain injury, a force acts upon your stationary head that moves your skull in one direction. The brain, which floats inside the skull in cerebrospinal fluid, moves in the direction from which the force was applied until it hits the skull. This is the coup injury — the initial trauma to the brain.

The head and skull then move in roughly the opposite direction until the skull stops and the brain hits the opposite side of the skull. This is the contrecoup injury. The contrecoup injury is not always directly opposite the site of the coup injury, but it does represent a second localized focal point where trauma occurs.

How Can an Accident Cause a Coup Contrecoup Injury?

Suppose that you are driving in a vehicle and are involved in a head-on collision. The sudden stop of your vehicle’s travel forces your head forward, and your brain moves forward inside your skull until it strikes your skull. This represents the initial blow, or coup, injury. 

Your head is then forced back in a whiplash-type motion, and your brain soon follows until the rear portion of your brain strikes the back of your skull. This is the contrecoup injury.

One of the key distinguishing features of a coup contrecoup injury is that the brain suffers trauma to at least two distinct regions during the same injury event. Consequently, people who suffer these injuries can experience a wide variety of symptoms.

Complications from Coup Contrecoup Brain Injuries

The symptoms and complications of a coup contrecoup injury depend on what areas of the brain are damaged in the accident. For example, injuries to the frontal lobe can lead to problems with memory and concentration, trouble making decisions or solving problems, and behavioral changes.

Damage to the parietal lobe, located right behind the frontal lobe, can lead to other symptoms. These symptoms could include trouble with reading and writing, difficulty distinguishing your right from your left, and feelings of numbness or burning. 

The occipital lobe can be found behind the parietal lobe and toward the back of the brain. When it suffers damage, your vision is affected. You may experience blindness, visual distortions, and hallucinations. 

Finally, damage to your temporal lobe can lead to headaches, seizures, and dizziness. You may also experience memory loss and slurred speech, along with sensitivity to auditory and visual stimuli.

Recovering from a Coup Contrecoup Injury

Depending on the severity of your coup contrecoup injury and the regions of the brain that are affected, your course of treatment could include surgery, medications, and one or more different types of rehabilitation. In cases of severe coup contrecoup injuries, your symptoms may improve but not fully resolve. 

If your injuries were the result of another person’s negligence, you should consider seeking compensation for your short-term expenses and long-term needs with the help of a qualified Harrisburg brain injury attorney.

If you’ve been injured in a brain injury, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

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2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

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(717) 388-2325

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79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
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354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

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30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
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2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
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937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963