What is a "Diffuse Axonal" Traumatic Brain Injury?Diffuse Axonal Traumatic Brain Injury

This is a prevalent type of brain injury we find in our Traumatic Brain Injury law practice. The diagnosis or term simply means that brain damage occurs over a more widespread area than in a specific, or "focal," traumatic brain injury. Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury is called "DAI" for "Diffuse Axonal Injury." Thus, it is an injury to the brain's axonal tissue. Unlike brain injury or trauma due to a direct force or impact or due to deformation of the brain itself, DAI is the result of a traumatic shearing force that occurs when the human head is rapidly accelerated or decelerated, as may occur in auto motorcycle, or truck accidents, trip or slip and falls, sports injuries, or assaults. More commonly, the axonal brain tissue is injured or damaged from rotational forces or from what is called a "severe deceleration." However, my San Diego injury law practice sees these types of brain injuries most frequently from vehicle accidents; however, they can also occur from child abuse, such as the widely publicized "shaken baby syndrome."

The most common damage in DAI cases is the disruption of axons (conducts electrical impulses away from a neuron or nerve cell), which communicate neural impulses from one nerve cell to another in the brain. Shearing forces of the axonal tissue refer to tissue damage when tissue slides over other brain tissue (axonal tissue). These forces stretch the axonal tissue over different areas of density.

Types of Injuries as the Result of Diffuse Axonal (DAI) Injury to the Brain:

Unfortunately, the most severe type of DAI to the brain is coma - in fact, over 90% of patients or severe car accident victims with serious DAI to the brain never regain consciousness, slipping into a permanent coma. Those who do wake up from this type of coma are extremely lucky - however, sadly, they often awaken with significant impairment to their brain. Most doctors now agree that there is a wide range of injuries that can come to pass with a DAI-type injury. This ranges from coma to mild concussion-type injuries. Of course, concussion-type injuries are rated as a much milder type of diffuse axonal injury to the brain.

Diagnosing and Treatment of DAI to the Brain:

DAI can be very difficult to detect (depending on severity), largely because it does not show up well on CT scans or other macroscopic imaging techniques. However, it shows up nicely on the microscopic level, which is what an experienced California Brain Injury lawyer must depend on to prove DAI in a California court of law. At the San Diego California Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, we have helped victims of car accidents who have DAI prove their case to the at-fault insurance company(s). Employing new diagnostic techniques like Diffusion Tensor Imaging and PET scans, a good San Diego brain injury lawyer can now effectively communicate the damage of an injury. Also, calling family and friends as lay witnesses at trial can help communicate the damage - meaning these witnesses can help explain how a DAI victim was (personality-wise) before the DAI-producing accident. Many times, brain injury lawyers rely on this type of testimony to "fill in the blanks" on this type of brain dysfunction.

In terms of treatment, depending on the severity of DAI to the injured person, there are brain membrane sealants called Polyethylene glycol that can prevent further damage to the axonal tissue. Time and blood flow are also other factors that can influence healing time. Remember, the injury causes stagnation of blood flow due to the injured area now being injured and the tissue that was damaged not being the same. Research is ongoing; only further time will show what works for these hidden injuries.