Tests to Determine Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Medical providers can test for TBI and the severity of damage it causes using a variety of procedures.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious and potentially life threatening condition. Even a minor bump or blow can result in a brain injury that leaves the victim with permanent impairments. TBI testing has become more advanced in determining the parts of the brain impacted and the extent of the damage done. The following outlines some traditional testing doctors use to diagnose TBI, along with some of the latest developments in the field.
Testing for Traumatic Brain Injury
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) outlines a variety of tests that doctors use to diagnose TBI and to determine the level of brain or nerve functioning. Among these, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) provides a basic assessment of the person’s condition. It measures the ability to speak, to open the eyes, and to move, assigning a numerical score for each. Numbers of 13 or higher indicate a mild TBI, while a lower score indicates a more severe injury.
In addition to the GCS, imaging tests also play a key role in treating brain injuries, allowing doctors to see the exact areas affected and the extent of the damage. These include:
- Computerized tomography (CT), which takes x-rays from different angles and can show internal bleeding or bruised brain tissue;
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnets and radio waves for more detailed images that are often helpful in follow up exams;
- Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring, which indicates when shunts or drainage tubes are needed to reduce swelling in the brain.
Other TBI tests focus on speech, language, and cognitive abilities. These evaluate the patient’s ability to communicate and the strength and coordination of the muscles that control speech. This can impact the patient’s ability to swallow and indicates whether feeding tubes or supplements are needed. Cognitive tests, which are usually administered over a number of hours by a neuropsychologist, evaluate the impacts a brain injury has on the person’s memory and ability to reason or make judgments. These often involve interviews with family members to uncover personality changes which occurred due to the brain injury.
Additional Testing For TBI
An additional, yet less common method of TBI testing listed by the NIH is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). This uses water molecules to contrast with magnetic resonance images, and can help quantify the amount of damage directly attributed to the brain injury. This can be particularly helpful in personal injury lawsuits. While not routinely provided by doctors, it can be requested through your attorney.
An additional, less common method of TBI testing is Functional MRI (fMRI) which tests impact of an injury on particular areas of the brain. Thisese tests can be particularly helpful in personal injury lawsuits. While not routinely provided by doctors, it can be requested through your attorney.Another procedure which could hold promise is blood testing, which monitors protein levels in those with suspected brain injuries. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this procedure in early 2018, and claims it could help to ensure patients at risk get the additional testing and treatment they need.
Austin Brain Injury Attorney Stephen G. Nagle Is Here to Help
If you or someone you care about has suffered a brain injury as the result of another’s reckless or negligent conduct, contact Austin attorney Stephen G. Nagle. Request a consultation to discuss your options in seeking the compensation needed to recover from these injuries.