The skull is a collection of plate like bones that make up the shape of the head and enclose the brain, eyes and sinus cavities. In a newborn infant, there are several soft bones that allow the skull to be malformed during birth. However, as a child ages, the bones start to fuse together and become more solid, meaning that adults actually have fewer bones than infants. The skull is somewhat unique among bone structures in that it protects structures rather than providing a structural support for other body tissue.
The skull is incredibly strong due to its stiffness and shape. A person hitting another person in the skull with their bare fist is likely to break several bones in their hand while barely damaging the skull. However, because of its strength and structure, it does pose some unique risks of injury:
- A concussion is where the brain is damaged by a blow to the skull. Although the skull will absorb most of the force of a trauma to the head, some of the force may be transferred directly to the brain.
- A contra coup injury is one where the brain is injured by inertia when it rebounds within the skull and strikes the inside of the skull, suffering severe damage.