How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?
Some medical professionals refer to it as the “invisible injury” because it is so difficult to diagnosis due to the range of symptoms, but if it is not diagnosed, it can result in lifelong struggles. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) “occurs when an external mechanical force causes brain dysfunction.” Although that is a general definition, as TBI occurs in a variety of different forms, it is categorized as an injury to your brain cells that results in physical, sensory, and/or cognitive dysfunction. Because the brain is the epicenter of the body, an injury to only your head can have an unlimited number of effects on the rest of your body, such as those resulting from nerve signal damage. Especially for brain injuries that manifest physically and emotionally, identifying a traumatic brain injury as the source can be difficult. So how do physicians positively diagnose traumatic brain injury, and how do you determine in what category you fall?
Three Categories of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head injuries generally fall into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. These categories are fluid as opposed to static in nature, meaning that you may have symptoms that fall into multiple categories. Generally, your brain injury is considered “mild” if your symptoms fall into only the following categories:
- Brief loss of consciousness (a few seconds or minutes)
- Mild confusion
- Normal testing and brain scans after an accident
Most patients recover from a mild traumatic brain injury without the need for intense treatment, but it is still important to monitor your symptoms and avoid further head injuries, as future injuries may be more severe as the result of past brain cell damage. This is why many young athletes are banned from participating in certain sports after a mild concussion.
Moderate traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed if (1) the loss of consciousness lasts up to a few hours, (2) you are dazed and confused for a few days or weeks, and (3) you experience physical, emotional, or cognitive dysfunction, including changes in behavior. Even with a mild traumatic brain injury, these impairments can become permanent if not aggressively treated, as even a slight disruption of the sensitive neurons in your brain can affect your function. Although cognitive brain therapy can help you compensate for these impairments, you are still entitled to compensation for any long-term changes in your behavior or physical function. Examples of long-term symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries include:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Aggressive behavior
- Visual impairment
- Memory loss
Severe traumatic brain injuries, such as “diffuse axonal injury,” are commonly seen after a car crashes and they typically occur when there is a severe, crushing blow to the head or an outside item penetrates the brain. Such injuries can result in death, long-term coma, a vegetative state, near complete loss of memory and cognitive function, and loss of physical and motor skills. Most individuals who suffer from severe traumatic brain injuries will never be able to function in their normal capacity; it is a life-altering event. Further, those who suffer from severe traumatic brain injuries have a higher risk of developing epilepsy, dementia, depression, and Parkinsonism.
Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries in Children
Young children, especially those who cannot communicate, are especially susceptible to severe traumatic brain injuries because their brain tissue is still developing. However, parents may not realize that their child has suffered from such an injury, especially if it was the result of babysitter abuse, an unseen fall, or a minor car accident that caused no harm to the adults.
Unfortunately, severe traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of childhood death and disability, but symptoms in children can differ from those experienced by adults. For example, children suffering from traumatic brain injuries may experience changes in eating habits, depression, lack of attention, loss of interest, and emotional dysfunction. Parents of young children may assume that these are the result of an emotional disorder and seek only psychological treatment. However, it is necessary to perform certain brain scans, such as CAT scans, MRIs, and X-rays in order to determine if the brain is bleeding, if there are abnormal areas of cell growth, or there are areas of cell death. Especially with your children, such scans are essential, as they may not be able to answer the cognitive questions necessary in order to diagnose such an injury.
Diagnosing Brain Injuries in Adults
If you experience a head injury as a result of a severe Florida car accident, most emergency room physicians will perform a CAT scan and any necessary brain and nerve tests as a matter of course when you are admitted. This will normally assist physicians in diagnosing a brain injury early in order to get you proper treatment. However, if you present to the emergency room or a doctor without having experienced a traumatic injury, a doctor may begin her diagnosis by asking you certain questions and performing certain motor tests. They may not be quick to perform intensive scans because of the price tag. These simple tests may include testing your speech, movement, nerve function, and memory, and if you fail to perform in certain categories, your doctor may order additional testing.
If You Have Been Diagnosed with a Brain Injury, Contact a Tampa Bay, Florida, Law Firm
Traumatic brain injuries manifest in a variety of ways, and they can affect your personality, health, education, and career. If such an injury was the result of an accident, such as a truck accident, car collision, trip-and-fall, or work-related accident, you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Further, children suffering from such injuries are entitled to special services to assist them with normal development and learning. Dolman Law Group is your premier traumatic brain injury firm in the greater Tampa Bay area, and its attorneys are here to ensure you get the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery. Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.