What is the difference between a closed head injury, open head injury, and penetrating head injury?


A closed head injury is one in which the skull remains intact and the brain is not exposed to the outside environment, although significant damage may occur from the impact of the brain against the inner part of the skull or from shearing of axons secondary to rotational forces. Open head injuries occur when there is a disruption of the scalp and skull creating the possibility that the brain may be contaminated by material from the outside environment. Penetrating head injuries are an open type of injury in which a foreign body passes through the skull and outer coverings of the brain into the brain tissue itself.

Deutsch and Fralish. “Closed Head Trauma in The Adult and Older Child.” In P. Deutsch and H. Sawyer (Ed.) A Guide to Rehabilitation. White Plains, NY: AHAB Press.

Ripley and Weed. (2009). “Life Care Planning for Acquired Brain Injury.” In R. Weed (2009) Life Care Planning and Case Management Handbook. (p.349-378). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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