Diffuse axonal injury is a type of traumatic brain injury in which there is widespread damage in the brain to the axons and affected neurons, as noted by Model Systems knowledge Translation Center. A diffuse axonal injury is often caused by a serious automobile accident or a fall. Shaken baby syndrome is a factor that can also lead to this type of brain injury.
When there is diffuse axonal injury, the main cause can be the back and forth movement of the brain within the skull that can occur, such as in a car accident. This can lead to brain tissue and axon damage. The damage to axons throughout the brain also affects the neurons, which are nerve cells that send messages throughout the body. A disruption in these cells can affect many bodily functions, states the Brain Injury Institute.
With a diffuse axonal injury, a patient loses consciousness for more than 6 hours, as noted by Merck Manual. This type of brain injury can lead to the death of brain cells and various symptoms, such as swelling of the brain and increased intracranial pressure. These symptoms can cause either a coma or further brain damage when brain tissues do not receive sufficient blood supply. In many cases, this injury can also lead to vegetative states and even death.
Detection of a diffuse axonal injury may be detected with diagnostic tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI imaging procedure, notes Merck Manuals.