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How Do Coup and Contrecoup Brain Injuries Happen?


Coup and contrecoup brain injuries can occur with or without a blow to the head. They are bruising, or contusion, of the brain. Coup and contrecoup are focal injuries, meaning they happen at the site of impact where the brain and the skull collide, rather than spread throughout the brain as in diffuse axonal injury. Many types of accidents can result in coup and contrecoup injuries, and you can incur both in a single accident. When that happens, it’s referred to as coup-contrecoup.


Types of accidents that commonly result in coup, contrecoup or coup-contrecoup injuries include:

  • Auto accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Trucking accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Sports accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Slip and fall
  • Assaults


Coup injuries affect the brain at the site of impact when there is a blow to the head, or where the brain initially hits the inside of the skull in acceleration/deceleration injuries with no blow to the head, such as whiplash.

Contrecoup is an injury to the brain on the opposite side of the head from the initial impact. Brains are mushy, and they aren’t packed tightly in the skull, so when there is a great force, they can bounce back after the initial impact and strike the inside of the skull on the opposite side with enough force to cause a contusion.

Coup injuries are often overlooked when there is no blow to the head. Contrecoup can be missed even with a blow to the head when doctors focus only on the area of the brain where the head was struck. When brain injury treatment is delayed, the damage can continue to progress.

To learn more about how we can help you recover full compensation for your brain injuries, after an accident in Amarillo or anywhere in Texas, please call Wood Law Firm, LLP, at (806) 304-0447 or contact us online right away.