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Brain Injury Glossary

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC, our team of New York Brain Injury Lawyers, have been aware for years that traumatic brain injury is most commonly induced by such incidents as slip and fall, motor vehicle accident and physical assault. These incidents are often the result of the negligence, recklessness or carelessness of another person or entity. To that end, we have prepared a glossary to help those whose rights have been violated understand some of the basic medical terms If you have any further question please contact us at 800.696.9529 and speak with one of our attorneys


Anoxia– A decrease in the level of oxygen being transferred to the tissues. Anoxia can lead to hallucination, amnesia, memory loss and mental confusion.

Anoxic Encephalopathy– A decrease in the level of oxygen being transferred to the brain creating a disruption in brain function. Anoxic Encephalopathy is often induced by a stroke.

Aneurysm– A blood-filled focal dilation of the weakened wall of a blood vessel. The origin of an aneurysm is unclear. It can produce pain and swelling. If an aneurysm ruptures, there is a high probability of death.

Aphasia– The loss of coordinated speech, the inability to properly choose words or loss of verbal ability due to an injury of the cerebral cortex. Depending on the severity, a person may be able to speak but not write. Aphasia can be the result of a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Apraxia– The loss of voluntary movement due to an injury to the cerebrum. Apraxia may result from lesions on the brain or cerebral edema.

Assault– The willful intent to cause harm to another person.

Atrophy– A partial or complete depreciation of a tissue or organ. Atrophy of the brain can arise from a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Axonal Injury – Damage to an axon of nerve cells dedicated to transmitting impulses from one nerve cell to another nerve cell or organ.

Basal Skull Fracture – A displacement of the temporal, occipital, sphenoid or ethmoid bones in the base of the skull.

Blowout Fracture –A break in one or more of the bones which border the orbital socket.

Brain Edema –Also known as brain swell, is a swelling of the brain due to an increase in cerebral tissue water volume occurring from a brain injury.

Brain Hemorrhage– Focal bleeding caused from injury to the blood vessels contained within and surrounding the brain.

Brain Ischemia– An injury arising from a deficient supply of blood and oxygen to the brain.

Cerebral Edema– Swelling of the brain resulting from a rise in brain tissue water volume.

Cerebral Herniation – A bulging of the cerebral tissue through the cranial wall.

Cerebral Vascular Accident– An abrupt perforation or obstruction of a cerebral blood vessel, generating a serious hemorrhage or blockage, disrupting the flow of blood throughout the brain leading to a stroke.

Closed Head Injury– A non-penetrating trauma to the head resulting in a traumatic brain injury. A closed head injury often arises from a motor vehicle accident, sports injury, slip and fall or assault.

Coma– A level of unconsciousness or unresponsiveness resulting from injury to the brain.

Comatose– The status of being in a coma, which is a level of unconsciousness or unresponsiveness resulting from injury to the brain.

Cognitive – Concerning the comprehension of perception, judgment and reasoning.

Cognitive Deficit – A deficiency in the comprehension of perception, judgment and reasoning.

Contingency Management – Protocol supporting a patient’s anticipated response to a specific stimulus.

Brain Contusion – An injury resulting in the bruising of tissue. A contusion may result in bleeding, swelling and damage to brain tissue.

Concussion – A bruising of the brain resulting in a momentary loss of consciousness. A concussion may result in memory loss, headache, nausea or seizure.

Craniotomy – A surgical treatment of the cranium. A craniotomy is typically performed to relieve the suffering of brain lesions or traumatic brain injury.

Computerized Tomography (CT Scan) – A diagnostic exam utilizing x-ray to photograph the brain or other areas of the body.

Dementia – A serious impairment of a person’s cognitive ability. Oftentimes dementia is the result of a progressive traumatic brain injury.

Depression – A mental disability demonstrating an altered mood or interest in most or all pleasurable activities. Symptoms may include: loss of appetite, weight loss, weight gain, insomnia, guilt, feeling of hopelessness or thoughts of death and suicide.

Diffuse Axonal Injury – A traumatic brain injury covering a widespread area resulting from the shearing effect of a rapid acceleration/deceleration force. It is one of the most common and destructive types of traumatic brain injury.

Electroencephalography (EEG) – Documentation along the scalp of the electrical activity of neurons within the brain.

Electrocution Injury – An injury resulting from the contact of electricity with the human body. Electrocution injury varies in severity according to the type and intensity of current and duration and location of contact.

Encephalitis – An acute brain inflammation typically resulting from an infection.

Encephalomacia – An area of cerebral degradation due to a loss in the parenchyma following a traumatic brain injury.

Epilepsy – A neurological disorder associated with recurrent seizures.

Epidural Hematoma – A pooling of blood between the outer cerebral protective covering and the skull.

Evacuation –The process of removal.

Eye Orbital Fracture –A fracture in the orbital floor.

Focal Axonal Injury – A localized traumatic brain injury induced by a direct impact to the skull and deformation of the brain.

Frontal Lobe – An area of the brain at the front of each cerebral hemisphere responsible for higher mental functions such as: motor skills, speech, emotional control and behavior.

Glasgow Coma Scale – A rating system enlisted to evaluate a patient’s level of consciousness to determine the severity of neurological injury.

Head Trauma – Injury to the head engrossing all of the soft tissues and bones of the cranium and the brain.

Hematoma – A pooling of blood created from the rupture of a blood vessel. The most common cause of hematoma is sports related injury.

Hemorrhage – A severe internal bleeding into the tissues of the body. A hemorrhage is most commonly caused by traumatic injury.

Hydrocephalus – A pressurized buildup of cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. They can arise from complications of a traumatic brain injury. Hydrocephalus can result in convulsion, mental disability or even death.

Cerebral Infarction – An ischemic stroke caused by the disruption of arterial blood flow to the brain.

Intracranial Hemorrhage – Bleeding inside the cranium due to a ruptured or leaking blood vessel in the skull. An intracranial hemorrhage may be caused by traumatic brain injury or a ruptured aneurysm.

Intracerebral Hemorrhage – Bleeding inside the brain tissue. Intracerebral hemorrhage can increase the intracranial pressure leading to coma and death.

Intracerebral Hematoma – Pooling of blood inside the brain resulting from an intracerebral hemorrhage or penetrating wound.

Lesion – Abnormal tissue resulting from disease or trauma residing in or on a person.

Motor Vehicle Accident – An accident involving one or more motor vehicles. Motor vehicle accidents (car accident, SUV, truck accident, motorcycle accident, are one of the primary causes of traumatic brain injury.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) –A diagnostic examination providing cross-sectional photos of the brain and other areas of the body.,

Non-penetrating Head Injury – An injury to the head causing damage to the brain without penetrating the skull.

Occipital Lobe – The areaof the cerebral hemisphere located in the back of the brain responsible for sight.

Parietal Lobe – The area of the cerebral hemisphere behind the frontal lobe responsible for processing the senses of touch such as pain, heat and cold.

Penetrating Head Injury – Injury to the head causing damage to the brain through the penetration of the skull.

Penetrating Skull Fracture – A traumatic brain injury resulting from an object penetrating the skull and damaging brain tissue.

Recreational Accident – An accident occurring during the performance of a leisure activity.

Skull Fracture –A displacement in one or more of the cranial bones. A depressed skull fracture is caused by blunt force trauma, such as being hit with a hammer.

Stroke – Brain damage caused by the disruption of blood flow to the brain. Strokes are often the result of a ruptured aneurysm.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – Bleeding which radiates over the surface of the brain. A subarachnoid hemorrhage can spontaneously occur from a ruptured aneurysm or traumatic brain injury.

Subdural Hematoma – A pooling of blood between the dura and cerebral tissue. This blood pooling compresses and damages the cerebral tissues. Subdural hematomas are typically caused by rapid acceleration/deceleration forces. They are one of the most lethal types of traumatic brain injury.

Temporal Lobe – The area of the brain located below the frontal and occipital lobes and is responsible for auditory reception and memory function.

Thalamus – An area of the brain that acts as a relay station for the cerebral cortex.

Trauma – A physical injury induced by an outside force.

Traumatic Brain Injury – A disruption of normal brain function resulting from a direct or indirect impact to the brain.