Diagnosing a Brain Injury

Diagnosing a Brain Injury

The effects of traumatic brain injuries can worsen swiftly without treatment, so doctors and other medical personnel need to assess the injury rapidly. Diagnosing a brain injury involves looking for signs of damage to the brain, either through scanning devices like computerized tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), and X-rays, or through screening-tests and scoring-systems that measure a person’s speech, movement, memory, and thought.

Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is one of the most commonly used TBI scoring systems; it comprises three assessments: eye, verbal and motor responses. The lowest possible GCS score is 3 (deep coma or death), while the highest is 15 (fully awake). By measuring a person’s ability to move their eyes and limbs, speak coherently, and follow directions, the scale helps emergency medical-personnel to evaluate a person’s level of consciousness and diagnose the initial severity of a brain injury. Persons with GCS scores of 3 to 8 are classified as having a severe traumatic brain injury; those with scores of 9 to 12 are classified as having a moderate TBI, and those with scores of 13 to 15 are said to have a mild TBI.

When to Seek Medical Help

If there are any signs or symptoms of traumatic brain injury, go to the nearest hospital emergency room or call 911 immediately; it is important to begin emergency treatment within the “golden hour” following the injury to stabilize a person and prevent further injury. The terms mild, moderate and severe are used to describe the effect of the injury or the level of damage, but keep in mind that there is nothing “mild” about a brain injury; any injury to the brain is a serious medical condition.