Brain Injury Caused by Explosion

Brain injuries caused by explosive blasts can have life-altering consequences. These injuries are often very complex, and require substantial medical care. When our lawyers represent someone who was injured in an explosion, they conduct investigations to determine what caused the blast and who can be held responsible for it. Our lawyers recently won $10 million for a man who was severely injured in an explosion.


Our lawyers understand that, after an explosion, families need answers. We have helped clients with life-altering explosion and traumatic brain injuries get the answers and money they needed for their futures.

Contact Attorney Fred Pritzker


Blast Wave Brain Injury

The blast wave from an explosion can cause a brain injury. When there is an explosion, there is an abrupt and extreme increase in air pressure quickly followed by a decrease in pressure, which creates a negative pressure that acts like a suction. This blow of pressure outward from the explosion location followed by the negative pressure forced back into the initial location is called a blast wave. If the blast is in an enclosed space, the waves reverberate against the walls. Anyone in that enclosed space, such as a house, is at higher risk of serious injury during an explosion.

When an shock wave (blast wave) hits a human being, the intense over-pressurization followed by the abrupt under-pressurization can:

  • cause the brain to rattle in the skull;
  • constrict one or more blood vessels (focal cerebral vasospasm);
  • create air emboli (air bubbles that act as clots) that can cause stroke; and
  • send waves of energy into the bloodstream, and from there to the brain, which can damage neurons.

Blast wave can cause any of the following brain injuries1:

  • edema (swelling);
  • concussion;
  • contusion (rupture caused by movement within the skull);
  • diffuse axonal injury (lesions in the small blood vessels in the white matter caused by the shearing forces of the blast wave);
  • hematomas (clotted blood causes swelling);
  • hemorrhage (bleeding).

A Blast Concussion Can Cause Permanent Brain Damage

There are three levels of blast concussion. The first level is when a person is dazed or confused; loss of consciousness may or may not happen. With the second level, there is a gap in memory. With the third level, there is witnessed unconsciousness.

Blast concussions can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptoms, including headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness/balance problems, fatigue, insomnia/sleep disturbances, drowsiness, sensitivity to light/noise, blurred vision, difficulty remembering, and/or difficulty concentrating.

When these symptoms linger, post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is suspected. It may take months or years for these symptoms to resolve.

According to recent research, “Lack of clear TBI symptoms following primary blast exposure may not accurately reflect the extent of brain injury.” 2 In fact, in most explosions, there may be some damage to the white matter of the brain. The white matter is “the connective wiring that links different areas of the brain.” 3 Damage to the white matter can result in cognitive (thinking) problems involving memory, judgment, and analytical ability.


Penetrating Head Injuries

Blast waves can send debris flying at extremely high speeds. If the skull is penetrated by debris, it is called a penetrating head injury. A skull fracture can also be a penetrating head injury.



  1. Hicks, Ramona R., et al. “Neurological effects of blast injury.” The Journal of trauma 68.5 (2010): 1257.
  2. Taber, Katherine H., et al. “White matter compromise in veterans exposed to primary blast forces.” The Journal of head trauma rehabilitation 30.1 (2015): E15.
  3. Duke Medicine Press Release.
  4. Zink, Elizabeth K., and K. A. R. E. N. McQuillan. “Managing traumatic brain injury.” Nursing2015 35.9 (2005): 36-43.




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