Goldblatt & Associates P.C. know that Coup Contre-Coup injuries can happen anytime that a person’s head is suddenly accelerated. The terms “coup” and “contre-coup” are French terms that mean “blow” and “against the blow.” The coup injury is caused by the brain hitting the interior of the skull; the contre-coup injury occurs directly opposite the blow due to a process called cavitation.
The most common examples of these injuries come from car wrecks. Perhaps the simplest case can occur when you are a passenger in a car that rear ends another vehicle. When your car’s forward motion stops suddenly, your head keeps on moving until it can go no further, and your head comes to a sudden stop. (This is the same process that causes your sack of groceries to crash into the dash when you have to stop suddenly.) After your head stops, it is likely that your head will rebound and travel backward. This action may repeat itself several times.
A similar process happens inside the skull. The brain is a passenger inside the skull riding only on a thin layer of cerebral spinal fluid. Just as your head kept on going when the car stopped suddenly, your brain slides backward until it can go no further and suddenly crashes into the back of the skull. A bruising injury occurs to the brain as a result of the direct impact with the skull.
Now for the cavitation part of the injury. Cavitation is the formation of air bubbles in a liquid at low pressure when the liquid is accelerated. The sudden movement of the head forward sets up the cavitation process. An area of low pressure within the microvascular system (minute blood vessels) at the front of the brain develops.
The brain, which initially had struck the rear of the skull, now starts moving forward. The area of low pressure at the front of the brain is suddenly converted into an area of high pressure. The sudden change in pressure within the microvascular system at the front of the brain destroys the air bubbles in the blood. The rapid creation and destruction of these air bubbles damage the microvascular system that feeds oxygen to the front of the brain. The result is brain damage in the area directly opposite the place where the brain first hit the skull.
As the head rebounds backward, the process reverses. The brain slides forward until it crashes into the front of the skull. An area of low pressure is created in the microvascular system at the back of the brain causing bubbles to form in the blood vessels at the back of the brain. When these bubbles collapse as the brain starts moving backward again, the damage is done to these blood vessels.
To learn more about Coup Contre-Coup injuries, and how it relates to brain injury, contact Goldblatt and Associates to schedule a head injury consultation. Goldblatt & Associates P.C. serves accident injury victims in Saugerties, Rhinebeck, Chatham, Goshen, and Beacon. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-567-9888. We offer a free initial consultation and receive no fee unless we are successful.