What Happens to the Brain When There is a Physical Impact

Posted By: Tony Baratta | January 15th, 2021

The brain is a very delicate part of the body. The slightest damage can disrupt the functions of other body parts and pose serious consequences. The brain is a delicate organ floating inside our skulls. It is protected by hard bone, but physical impact can still have detrimental effects.

Trauma like car accidents or falls are very common. When these create an impact on the head and injure the brain, it’s called a coup contrecoup injury, i.e. when a moving object hits the head or when the moving head hits a stationary object.

What is a Coup Contrecoup Injury?


The best way to define what happens in a coup contrecoup injury is with an example, such as what happens in a car accident.

A passenger car moving at 40 miles an hour strikes a stopped car in the rear. The passenger in the car that was struck strikes his head into the windshield. When this happens, the brain slams into the hard, bony, protective skull and bruises the front of the brain. This is called the coup injury.

And because of the force, the brain ricochets and strikes the back of the brain, also causing bruising. This is now called a contrecoup injury.

A coup and contrecoup injury occurs only with physical impact to the skull. If no physical impact occurs, it is another mechanism of injury to the brain. Typically, these instances of no physical impact occur with acceleration, deceleration, and rotational forces.



About the Author

Anthony J. Baratta (Tony) is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 50 cases to Juries in State and Federal Courts and has litigated thousands of personal injury and medical malpractice cases in his 30-year career. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and an active board member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is also on the board for the Philadelphia VIP and performs pro bono work for the Laurel House, a non-profit for victims of domestic abuse. In addition, Tony is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys, voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers for the past 14 years, and a 2018 recipient of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Award for the Civil Trial Division.

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