Any type of severe blow or violent jarring motion to the upper body can lead to a serious brain injury. Even if the head or neck is not directly impacted, the brain striking the interior walls of the cranium can result in traumatic injuries.
While every injury is unique, medical doctors will likely follow the same protocols for diagnosing a concussion. Depending on numerous factors – such as the force of the collision, the position of the head during the accident, or a history of similar trauma – symptoms will likely appear differently, at different times, for different individuals. Is there a battery of tests that doctors can use to diagnose structural and functional brain damage?
While completing a thorough medical history, your doctor might also choose to conduct a neurological examination in addition to various imaging tests. What types of tests can be performed?
- Imaging tests: If there is no outward appearance of damage, medical professionals will likely order a variety of imaging tests to rule out any structural damage to the brain. Tests such as computerized tomography (CT) scans use X-rays to obtain cross-sectional images of the interior or the skull. Additionally, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to detect structural damage and brain bleeds.
- Neurological examination: With a clear understanding of the circumstances surrounding your injury, your doctor will likely perform a detailed neurological examination. Different from an examination of the structure of the brain, neurological examinations are designed to measure the impact an injury has on the brain’s function. This evaluation will check vision, hearing, balance, coordination and reflexes.
- Cognitive testing: As a further examination of the impact on the brain’s function, doctors will likely order several tests designed to evaluate thinking (cognitive) skills following an accident. This group of tests may be used to evaluate numerous factors such as memory and concentration.
It can be challenging to properly diagnose a concussion as different people react differently to trauma. In the same type of accident, one person might suffer short term memory loss and another person might suffer chronic headaches and violent mood swings. It is wise to seek the care and attention of an experienced medical professional even if you do not at first feel any symptoms. Symptoms of a brain injury might not be apparent for hours or even days after an accident.