Understanding Kentucky Brain Injuries: Coup and Contrecoup

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When people hit their heads hard enough to cause damage to the brain, as in a Kentucky car crash, the injury often is not limited to the site of impact. The consistency of the brain has been compared to firm pudding, soft tofu, and soft gelatin. When it hits the inside of the skull during an impact, it bounces, and additional areas of the brain are likely to hit the inside of the skull as well. The brain becomes damaged when it rubs against the ridges on the inner surface of the skull.

Coup and Contrecoup Injuries

The type of injury is classified relative to the site of impact.

  • A coup injury is a contusion, or bruise, to the brain at the site of impact. The organization BrainandSpinalCord.org describes a coup injury as the result of a sudden, violent stop that causes the brain to accelerate forward and hit the side of the skull. This type of injury is usually the result of an object striking the head.
  • A contrecoup injury occurs when the brain accelerates forward, hits the side of the skull, and then bounces off the other side of the skull. This type of injury usually results from the head striking an object.
  • A coup-contrecoup injury is damage to the brain at the site of initial impact, as well as on the opposite side.

Common Causes of Injury

Coup and contrecoup brain injuries commonly result from one of the following incidents, although they may be caused by any event that causes the head to strike an object or an object to strike the head:

  • Car crashes
  • Assault
  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Shaken baby syndrome


Coup and contrecoup brain injuries can lead to brain swelling, hematomas, and complications when bone fragments from the skull enter the brain. Symptoms that follow a brain injury include

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis
  • Sensory changes


The severity of the brain injury time determines the degree to which an individual will recover, as well as how long recovery will take. Minor cases may heal with no long-term effects, while severe cases may result in long-lasting or even permanent disability. The length of time spent unconscious or comatose and the degree of recovery in the first month after injury are predictive of how complete the individual’s ultimate recovery will be.  

If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury in Kentucky because of the actions of another individual, you need a Louisville brain injury lawyer. Call Gray and White Law at 502-210-8942 or toll-free at 888-450-4456. We’ll set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.