Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) | Lawyers serving acquired brain injury and traumatic brain injury victims and their families in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Maryland and Virginia

A diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is one of the most severe and widespread traumatic brain injuries. A DAI is a brain injury that occurs at the cellular level and is sometimes called axonal shearing, acquired brain injury, or simply a head injury. DAI injuries can result in very serious neurological damage. Because it can be difficult to detect and diagnose, DAIs are sometimes called a “hidden” injury.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for DAI injuries and the medical treatment is centered around supportive care through techniques such as stabilizing the injury victim. DAIs are rated according to three Grades:

  • Grade I: widespread axonal damage but no problems with spinal cord, nerves, or brain function
  • Grade II: same damage as Grade I but spinal cord, nerves, or brain function problems are present
  • Grade III: all of the damage in Grades I and II, in addition to brainstem damage and frequently there are brain tissue tears

If You Have Suffered a Diffuse Axonal Injury:

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What are some signs of a diffuse axonal injury?

These injuries are sometimes difficult to diagnose because the injury and neurological problems may be attributed to more visible injuries incurred during the accident. DAIs can also be difficult to detect because they are not readily apparent on CT scans, but can be seen more easily with MRI scans. Some of the signs and symptoms of a DAI may include:

  • Loss of consciousness during the injury
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Inattentiveness and loss of concentration ability
  • Coma or concussion
  • Memory loss
  • Lowered mental status – sometimes less than 24 hours, sometimes much longer
  • Weakness experienced on one side of the body
  • Excessive sweating
  • Visual impairment
  • Small bleeds visible in the corpus callosum/cerebral cortex

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