Contusion vs Concussion: Understanding the Difference

Brain Contusion diagram

Brain injuries are common after accidents involving head trauma. It’s important to understand your injury type, including whether you’ve suffered a contusion or concussion. At Warner Law Offices, our skilled personal injury team draws on over 20 years of experience representing accident victims, including those with mild to severe brain injuries. We provide personalized, compassion-rooted strategies to help you get the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has sustained a head injury, it’s reasonable to be unsure what to do next. You may have heard some medical terms, including different injury types that can be difficult to decipher. For example, take contusion vs. concussion. Both refer to types of brain injuries, but they affect the body differently. 

At Warner Law Offices in West Virginia, we provide compassionate representation for those whose brain injuries resulted from another person’s negligence. We understand how difficult it is to determine the next steps after your accident. Our skilled attorneys will pursue the compensation you need to move forward and create a fulfilling life after your concussion or brain contusion injury.

"I highly recommend this law office. After my accident I searched for law offices that would best fit my case, I chose Warner Law Offices due to the great things I was hearing from my peers. Turned out to be the exact experience that I was told I would have. The employees were very caring people and passionate about their job. They focused on me to where I felt I could trust them with my case. They did what was best for me and nothing else. They cared genuinely, an it was shown through the outcome of my case that I was very pleased with."

What Is a Brain Contusion Injury?

brain contusion is an injury that involves brain tissue bruising. Bruising can happen when a blow to the head damages blood vessels within the brain tissue. The blood vessels break open and bleed under the brain’s surface, causing mild to severe swelling.

Brain contusions may be mild to severe or even fatal. More severe contusions have a higher likelihood of long-term complications, frequently involving high medical and personal care support costs. 

Types of Contusions

The two most common types of contusions are:

  • Coup contusions: Bruises that develop just under the trauma site
  • Contrecoup contusions: Bruises that happen when an impact causes the brain to hit against the opposite side of the skull, causing bruising on that side

Both types of contusions may get worse in the week after injury. Timely diagnosis and treatment can increase your chances of a positive outcome. 

Brain Contusion Symptoms

A contusion shares many common symptoms of traumatic brain injuries. They include the following:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Behavioral changes
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness

Contusions are unique brain injuries involving bleeding in a particular brain location. People with contusions may experience the following specific symptoms:

  • Amnesia
  • Vocal babbling
  • Out-of-control emotions
  • Prolonged reaction time
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Sight, smell, or hearing disturbances

Symptoms vary based on the injury type, location, and degree. Each patient’s experience will differ, so seeing a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis is essential.

Unfortunately, not all medical providers provide the evaluation and attention necessary to identify a brain contusion. If you believe a medical team missed key symptoms, talk to one of our personal injury attorneys about pursuing compensation.

What Is the Difference Between a Brain Contusion and a Concussion?

Given their similar names, confusing a contusion with a concussion is easy, particularly if your medical provider failed to provide helpful information.

Contusions and concussions are head injuries, but they affect the brain differently and require different treatments.

A contusion is a local injury involving a specific brain area. It occurs when a sharp blow to the head causes bleeding beneath. The damage is limited to the affected area.

Concussions are more widespread injuries. They typically occur due to a traumatic blow or jolt to the head. The head shakes or jerks in response, shifting the brain inside the skull. This results in widespread cell damage and changes the brain’s overall functions.

Concussion Symptoms

Like contusions, concussions may cause some symptoms common to all traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms that are particularly likely from a concussion include the following: 

  • Headache 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • Loss of concentration or focus
  • Memory changes
  • Confusion
  • Increased or decreased sleeping
  • Anxiety or depression

Neurological symptoms are particularly dangerous because they signal a potentially severe concussion. Those symptoms may include:

  • Sleepiness or inability to wake
  • Worsening headache or vomiting
  • Altered behavior, coordination, or speech
  • Loss of consciousness

Immediate medical attention is crucial if any of these symptoms are present, even if the symptoms are mild. A lack of adequate care increases the risk of long-term damage.

How Are They Similar?

Although concussions are a distinct type of injury, they share some factors with contusions. For example, both may occur due to sudden and intense injury. 

Because they involve tissue damage, concussions also affect brain function. They may cause physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that vary by patient. 

Both injuries may be mild or severe, and the severity level may not be immediately apparent. See a qualified medical professional who can distinguish between a contusion and a concussion and provide individualized care.

How Do Medical Professionals Tell Them Apart?

Diagnosing a contusion or concussion requires a comprehensive medical evaluation. The treating physician should conduct a thorough neurological examination, including verbal and motor functioning assessments. 

Symptom descriptions help physicians determine a contusion from a concussion. A physician also may order a CT scan to rule out or diagnose a contusion

Concussions are not visible on scans, so a negative result does not rule out a concussion. The doctor must ask the right questions and accurately interpret the results to provide a diagnosis.

Contact our personal injury attorneys if you believe a health care provider failed to diagnose your contusion or concussion in time.

Common Accidents that Cause Contusions and Concussions

Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of brain injuries, including contusions and concussions.  Truck accidents are particularly common in West Virginia, leading to more than 385 injuries in 2021 alone.

Bicycle and motorcycle accidents also leave people vulnerable to contusions and other serious injuries. In one study of injured patients, 46 percent of bicycle riders and 74.2 percent of motorcyclists suffered contusions

Auto accidents also may cause brain injuries to pedestrians. In fact, according to one recent study, pedestrians and cyclists are six times as likely as vehicle occupants to suffer a moderate to severe brain injury.

Many brain injuries leave victims with serious long-term health issues and costly medical bills. If someone else’s negligence caused a motor vehicle accident and left you injured, contact Warner Law Offices for a free case evaluation. You may qualify for a settlement to help you cover lost wages, medical bills, and other monetary and non-monetary costs.

Why Choose Warner Law Offices?

When you need a brain injury lawyer, Warner Law Offices offers skilled representation and a successful track record. With more than 20 years of combined experience, our team of attorneys serves clients in West Virginia and the surrounding areas.

Our settlements and results testify to our attorneys’ expertise. We have secured millions of dollars for injured clients, including a $13 million settlement for an auto accident victim and $5.5 million for a truck accident victim.

At Warner Law Offices, we understand that coping with the aftermath of a brain injury is an emotional, physical, and financial hardship. We’re here to guide you through your journey toward compensation so you can focus on your recovery. Contact us today for your free case review.

Schedule a Free
Attorney Bobby Warner
Content Reviewed by:
Bobby Warner

Bobby has received many accolades throughout the years from both his peers in the legal community, as well as the media. The National Trial Lawyers association named Bobby a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and he has been selected as a Member of the Nation’s Top One Percent. Additionally, he has been named a Best Attorneys of America by Rue Ratings, which also named Warner Law Offices to its Best Law Firms of America.