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acceleration-deceleration injury: injury resulting from a collision between a body part and another object or body part while both are in motion.


Coup injury-- damage occurring at the point of head trauma impact (e.g., where the head hit the ground in a fall) as the brain slides forward within the skull and impacts the inside of the skull. This can occur even if there is no direct external impact to the head (e.g., sudden deceleration in a motor vehicle accident).


Whiplash is considered an acceleration-deceleration injury, which can include whiplash, shoulder injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Rapid acceleration and deceleration in car accidents can be caused a variety of different ways, but most commonly occurs when an abrupt change in speed occurs.


Head injuries are generally classified as “open” or “closed.” An open head injury is one in which damage to the brain is caused by a fracture or penetrating wound. In a penetrating head injury, the dural covering of the brain has been breached by an object, such as a bullet or a piece of fractured skull.


Closed head injury can cause several different types of brain injury, including coup contre-coup, acceleration-deceleration trauma, rotational trauma and molecular commotion. According to Love and Webb (1992) the most predominant injury type is acceleration-deceleration trauma.


Deceleration injury can occur in high-speed vehicles when they stop or slow down abruptly or when the occupants of the vehicle are propelled from it while it is moving. Most experiments in deceleration have been done in connection with air travel, in which the acceleration factor is usually much greater than in land vehicles.


Coup injury may be caused when, during an impact, the brain undergoes linear acceleration and deceleration forces or rotational forces, causing it to collide with the opposite side of the skull. The injuries can also be caused solely by acceleration or deceleration in the absence of an impact.


Non-acceleration injuries-caused by injury to a restrained head and, therefore, no acceleration or deceleration of the brain occurs within the skull (e.g., blow to the head). These usually result in deformation (fracture) of the skull, causing focal localized damage to the meninges and brain.


Acceleration-deceleration, by definition, implies a particular direction or vector. Changes in the vector of acceleration or deceleration (ie, rotational or twisting forces) further complicate the computation of the sum of forces brought to bear on the brain.


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