Glossary >
Diffuse axonal injury

Diffuse axonal injury

This is some text inside of a div block.

Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the brain is subjected to severe rotational or angular force. This type of injury is caused when the head is suddenly and rapidly accelerated or decelerated, resulting in the tearing of nerve fibers throughout the brain. DAI is a major cause of death and disability in many cases of TBI and is the most common form of TBI in motor vehicle accidents.

Symptoms of DAI can vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury. However, common symptoms include confusion, disorientation, difficulty concentrating, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Other symptoms may include seizures, coma, and even death. In some cases, the patient may experience cognitive, behavioral, and/or physical impairments that can last for months or even years.

Diagnosis of DAI is typically done through a combination of physical examinations, imaging tests, and neurological tests. Physical examinations may include:

  • Checking for head and neck injuries.
  • Testing for balance and coordination.
  • Assessing for any changes in mental status.

Imaging tests, such as CT and MRI scans, can help identify any areas of the brain that have been damaged. Neurological tests, such as EEGs and evoked potentials, can also be used to assess the extent of damage to the brain.

Treatment for DAI is largely supportive and focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing further damage. This may include medications to reduce swelling, anti-seizure medications, physical and occupational therapy, and counseling. Surgery may sometimes be necessary to repair or replace damaged areas of the brain.

CPR AED and First Aid Certification. Get certified Now with the latest AHA guidelines.
Takes less than 20 minutes. learn more


  • Diffuse axonal injury: Diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. (2020, May 22). Retrieved from
  • Diffuse axonal injury. (2020, January 24). Retrieved from
  • Diffuse axonal injury. (n.d.). Retrieved from