Brain contusions

Learn about brain
contusions and what
we’re doing to help

What is a brain contusion?

A contusion is a medical term for blood collecting outside of a blood vessel. It’s more commonly known as a bruise. When a contusion affects other parts of the body, it’s usually relatively minor, but a brain contusion can be extremely serious and require immediate medical attention and treatment.

What causes a brain contusion?

A brain contusion may occur when a trauma causes damage to the brain. This is sometimes referred to as a traumatic brain injury or TBI. This can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. A contusion can grow either by further bleeding or due to an increase in fluid around the bleeding – a serious condition known as cerebral edema.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of a brain contusion?

These can vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Some symptoms may appear immediately, while others may appear days or even weeks later. If symptoms don’t go away and/or get worse, this can indicate a more serious injury. They can include:

Visible signs

Vomiting, loss of consciousness, blood or clear liquid leaking from the ears or nose, dilated pupils, drooping of face, or lack of balance.

Other physical changes

Slow pulse, difficulty breathing or swallowing, loss of bladder or bowel control.

Cognitive changes (affecting the ability to think)

Confusion, difficulty processing information, problems with talking or understanding speech.

‘Invisible’ symptoms

Headache, vision changes, dizziness, hearing problems, numbness or tingling in part(s) of the body

Our brain contusions research

We know that certain cellular receptors (parts of the cell that receive signals) are involved in the build up of blood/fluid associated with brain contusion. We are investigating a study drug designed to specifically target a natural channel in the body called sulfonylurea receptor 1 (SUR1-TRPM4) and block its activity. SUR1 is found on brain cells, and studies have shown that it is involved in the expansion of a contusion after brain injury. By blocking the activity of SUR1, it is hoped that the study drug may reduce this expansion and thereby decrease damage to the brain.

What could a Biogen brain contusion trial involve?

Our brain contusion research is seeking participants who have recently been hospitalized due to a TBI and for whom imaging has shown a brain contusion. If you or a loved one are part of a trial for brain contusions, the trial physician will closely monitor your/your loved one’s health with health assessments, such as:

CT scans

Computerized tomography (CT) scans combine X-ray images and computerized cross-sectional images to provide detailed information. They’re particularly well-suited to quickly examine people who have internal injuries due to trauma.

MRI scans

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in the body, including 3D images that can be viewed from different angles.

Blood tests

These can tell us several things, including what your body does to the investigational drug and how long it stays in your body


You, and/or someone who cares for you may be asked to provide information to check your physical and mental ability and your general health after your brain injury, as well as any side effects of the investigational drug.

Other assessments will be involved. A full list of these, and all other requirements around taking part in a trial, would be fully discussed with you before you made a decision about whether to join a trial or not.

And remember, if you or the person you care for have joined a clinical trial, there are many rules and regulations in place to protect your rights, safety, welfare, and personal data.

What is the role of a caregiver in a brain contusion clinical trial?

If someone you care for has had a TBI, for example, a partner, sibling, other family member, or close friend, we appreciate that this is likely to be a very worrying time for everyone involved. Healthcare professionals caring for your loved one may discuss the possibility of a clinical trial, should the option be appropriate and available. If this is the case, and you wish to go ahead with the trial, you may be asked to provide legal consent for their participation. You might be required to help monitor any changes in their condition during the trial and report them to us. Visit our section on caregivers for more information about this role.

How can I get involved?

Our brain contusion research is currently being conducted at trauma and emergency centers. Healthcare professionals at those centers may discuss the possibility of a clinical trial, should the option be appropriate for you or your loved one.

If you’re interested in learning more about specific clinical trials, please use our trial finder and search for ‘brain contusions’.

Help and resources

There are organizations that offer information and support for people who have experienced a TBI and their families. Below are some groups where you can find out more about TBI, connect with others, or learn about the latest research. Remember, this list of organizations does not imply an endorsement from Biogen or the listed organization.