How Traumatic Brain Injuries Are Diagnosed
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are known for being unpredictable in nature, and for being difficult to accurately identify, especially in cases involving concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries. Because any brain injury can disrupt the lives of victims cognitively, physically, and emotionally and make it difficult to handle the demands of daily life, an accurate diagnosis is essential to helping victims better manage symptoms, navigate recoveries, and educate themselves about their needs.
Thanks to modern medical advancements, we know more about the brain today than we have ever known. However, much of the brain, its functioning, and how it responds to injury still remains a mystery. This being the case, it becomes important for victims to take an active role in taking any head injury seriously, seeking medical attention, and providing doctors with the information that can help them arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
Below are some important steps you and your health care professional can take when diagnosing a traumatic brain injury:
- Seek immediate medical attention – Following any type of head injury, you should be focused on seeking immediate medical attention. Not only can this allow for an eventual diagnosis, it can also ensure you are evaluated for any potential complications and serious issues you may not have known about. Brain hemorrhaging, for example, may not present symptoms until time passes after an injury, and when left untreated, can become fatal. By seeking medical attention, in addition to obtaining referrals to a neurologist or other specialist, you put yourself in the best possible position to arrive at a diagnosis.
- Patient evaluations – Due to difficulties in identifying all forms of brain trauma, especially mild traumas that may not be visible through currently available image testing, doctors and specialists commonly rely on comprehensive evaluations to arrive at a brain injury diagnosis. This requires victims to not only actively seek help, but to also provide their doctors with as much information as possible about the initial accident or trauma that resulted in a head injury, whether there was a loss of consciousness and for how long, and the subsequent symptoms they are experiencing.
- Non-imaging Tests – In addition to conversations with a doctor, comprehensive evaluations may also involve various speech and language tests, examinations of a person’s ability to open their eyes and move normally, and assessments of cognition (problem solving, information processing, memory, etc.). Specialists may also choose to observe patients through neuropsychological assessments that allow them to evaluate cognitive and behavioral capabilities. These assessments may involve doctors collecting information from friends or family members about a patient’s behavior before and after an injury.
- Imaging tests – Imaging tests are commonly used to identify traumas in the brain, as well as serious complications like hemorrhaging. These tests may include CT scans, MRIs, and intracranial pressure monitoring that look at the structure of the brain, or tests like electroencephalograms (EEGs) or PET scans that analyze the function of the brain. Although these tests are effective in identifying serious issues and severe trauma, they may fall short in helping doctors identify mild traumas in the brain. Because some brain injury victims may have imaging test results that don’t indicate severe trauma, other evaluations are critical to making a diagnosis. Another excellent diagnostic technology for TBI’s is called Diffuse Tensor Imaging (DTI). Ask your medical professional if any of these tests might be important for your diagnosis.
Brain injuries may be difficult to identify, but they can be diagnosed when victims prioritize their own efforts in seeking evaluations, assisting medical professionals, and providing as much information as they can as to how an injury has impacted their lives. With a formal diagnosis, victims can then focus on their recoveries, obtaining any needed treatment (such as cognitive or psychological therapy), and making decisions that protect their health and safety.
At Crumley Roberts, we care about clients like we care about our family. Because we know the profound and at-times frustrating repercussions faced by brain injury victims, we place an emphasis on providing them with the information, support, and resources they need to heal and rebuild their lives. We also leverage our experience in personal injury law to guide them through their legal journeys, and work tirelessly to secure the compensation they deserve. If you wish to discuss a potential case anywhere in North or South Carolina with a brain injury lawyer from our team, call (866) 691-0607 for a free consultation.
Christopher Roberts is the CEO & President of Crumley Roberts. He holds a Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law!