Brain Injury Caused by Explosion

When an explosion causes an injury to the brain, the consequences are life-altering. Explosion brain injuries are complex and require a lot of medical care.

We understand that families need answers and accountability after an explosion. The Pritzker Hageman explosion lawyers help clients with life-altering brain injuries get the answers and money they need for their futures.

Attorney Eric Hageman
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How Does an Explosion Cause Brain Damage?

The blast wave from an explosion is what can cause a brain injury. When an explosion happens, there is an abrupt and extreme increase in air pressure followed by a decrease in pressure. This decrease creates a negative pressure that acts as a suction. The 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 explosion occurs in an enclosed space like a house, the blast waves reverberate against the walls. Anyone in that enclosed space is at higher risk of serious injury during an explosion. When a blast wave hits a person, the impact can:

  • Cause the brain to rattle in the skull
  • Constrict one or more blood vessels (focal cerebral vasospasm)
  • Create air bubbles that act as clots (air bubbles) that can cause a stroke
  • Send waves of energy from the bloodstream to the brain, which can damage neurons

What Types of Brain Injuries Are Caused by an Explosion?

  • Edema (swelling)
  • Concussion
  • Contusion (a rupture caused by movement within the skull)
  • Diffuse axonal injury (lesions in the small blood vessels)
  • Hematomas (swelling from clotted blood)
  • Hemorrhage (bleeding)

Can an Explosion Cause a Concussion?

Yes, blast waves in an explosion can cause a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) without a direct blow to the head. There are three types of blast concussions:

  1. First-Level Blast Concussion: A first-level blast concussion is when a person becomes dazed or confused. A loss of consciousness may or may not happen.
  2. Second Level Blast Concussion: A second-level blast concussion is when there is a gap in memory.
  3. Third Level Blast Concussion: A third-level blast concussion is characterized by unconsciousness.

Blast concussions can cause TBI symptoms, including the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness/balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia/sleep disturbances
  • Drowsiness
  • Sensitivity to light/noise
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Difficulty concentrating

A condition called post-concussion syndrome (PCS) occurs when TBI symptoms linger beyond the expected recovery period. Recent research from Duke Medicine shows that most explosions cause some brain damage, even if TBI symptoms do not appear after the blast.

What is a Penetrating Head Injury?

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.