Some injuries are immediately apparent after a crash or other accident. However, the symptoms of a brain injury are varied and may take time to appear. How do doctors identify traumatic brain injuries (TBI) like concussions?

Neurological examination

Medical professionals may perform a neurological examination if an injury may have impacted a person’s head. This examination can test a person’s reflexes, senses, coordination and balance. The physician may also identify problems with memory and difficulty focusing.

Observation of symptoms

Brain injuries can lead to a wide variety of symptoms. These symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in mood
  • Sensory changes like loss of the sense of smell or ringing in the ears

To identify these symptoms, doctors may release patients for observation in their homes or keep them in a healthcare facility for more direct observation. Observation can also reveal concerns like difficulty waking that would not appear in an initial neurological examination and determine whether symptoms worsen over time.

CT scans, MRI scans and other imaging tests

Imaging tests can be an essential diagnostic tool for people with more severe injuries. As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes, these tests are generally most helpful in identifying severe injuries like bleeding within the brain, skull fractures or changes to the brain itself.

Even with early diagnosis and treatment, recovering from a traumatic brain injury can involve many challenges. Patients may need to take time away from work as they heal, and some severe injuries may require surgery. Thankfully, legal options are available for injured people, and these options can provide financial support to offset the cost of recovery.