traumatic brain injury

How is Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed: From Symptoms to Medical Evaluations


Understanding the wonders of the human brain also involves understanding its vulnerabilities. Despite its robust defenses, the brain can sometimes fall prey to injuries, with traumatic brain injury (TBI) being one of the most severe types. This blog post aims to address the pivotal question: “How is traumatic brain injury diagnosed?” We encourage everyone to seek immediate medical attention if a TBI is suspected, while also consulting The Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A., aka Hire Jared, for any legal inquiries or assistance.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury

Defining TBI

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. It can result from a forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. Severity ranges from mild to severe, with symptoms varying accordingly.

Common Causes of TBI

  • Motor vehicle crashes

  • Falls

  • Sports injuries

  • Physical violence

  • Gunshot wounds

The Impact of TBI Severity

Mild TBIs often lead to temporary symptoms, while moderate or severe TBIs can have life-altering effects on a person’s ability to function and, in some cases, can even lead to death.

Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury

How is Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed

Mild TBI Symptoms

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Speech difficulties

  • Dizziness

  • Sensitivity to light or sound

Moderate to Severe TBI Symptoms

  • Persistent headache

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Seizures

  • Inability to awaken

  • Slurred speech

It’s crucial to remember that symptoms might not appear immediately after the injury, and medical attention should be sought as soon as any signs appear.

How is Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

Diagnostic Process of TBI

Medical History and Physical Examination

The initial evaluation begins with a detailed medical history and physical examination, which includes a neurological examination to assess brain function.

Glasgow Coma Scale

Health care providers often use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to assess the initial severity of brain injury. The GCS measures the person’s ability to speak, open their eyes, and move in response to stimuli.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests play a crucial role in diagnosing TBIs.

CT Scan

Computerized Tomography (CT)

A Computerized Tomography (CT) scan is typically the first imaging test used to evaluate brain injuries. It can quickly visualize fractures and reveal evidence of bleeding, blood clots, bruised brain tissue, and brain tissue swelling.

MRI Scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans might be used after the patient’s condition stabilizes. MRI scans can provide detailed images of the brain, helping to detect any brain damage that might have been caused by the injury.

Neuropsychological Tests

These tests help in assessing learning and memory, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and problem-solving skills, thereby determining the extent of TBI damage.

Remember, only qualified healthcare professionals can diagnose TBI. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Furthermore, if the injury is due to an accident or someone else’s negligence, consult with our firm, Hire Jared, for a free case review. Our team will help you understand your rights and potential legal recourse.

A Deeper Dive into Traumatic Brain Injuries

injury causes brain damage

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Closed Head Injuries

In these cases, the skull isn’t broken but the force of the injury causes brain damage. This includes concussions and diffuse axonal injuries, where brain cells are damaged but the skull remains intact.

Learn about the complexities and effects of diffuse axonal injuries in this comprehensive article. Read article here.

Open or Penetrating TBI

This occurs when an object penetrates the skull and enters the brain. These types of injuries often result from gunshot wounds or severe head injuries, like those suffered in a car accident.

Severe Forms of TBI: Secondary Brain Damage

Following the initial brain damage, a series of biochemical cascades can lead to secondary brain damage. This includes swelling (edema), increased pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure), and changes in blood flow to the brain.

After the Diagnosis: Prognosis and Long-Term Implications

Prognosis and Long-Term Implications

TBI and Its Impact on Daily Life

Depending on the severity, TBIs can significantly affect daily life. This may manifest as persistent vegetative state, or physical disabilities, such as difficulty walking, loss of bowel control, bladder control issues, or difficulties with speech.

Cognitive Difficulties Post-TBI

TBIs can also lead to cognitive difficulties, affecting memory, attention, learning, and decision-making skills. Emotional changes, such as increased anxiety, mood swings, or depression, may also occur.

Potential for Recovery

While the severity of the initial injury plays a significant role, recovery can also depend on access to early, comprehensive medical care and rehabilitation. Speech therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation services, occupational therapy, and mental health support can all contribute to recovery.

Medical Advancements in the Treatment of TBIs

Anti-Seizure Drugs and Coma-Inducing Drugs

While the use of anti-seizure drugs can help to prevent further seizures following a severe TBI, coma-inducing drugs can reduce the brain’s need for oxygen and promote healing.

The Role of Neurological Surgeons

Neurological surgeons play a pivotal role in managing severe head injuries, controlling brain swelling, and minimizing further injury. They also manage any complications arising from skull fractures.

The Importance of Intensive Care Units

Severe TBI patients often require intensive care unit (ICU) admission to monitor and manage critical aspects such as blood pressure, oxygen levels, and prevent secondary brain injuries.

The Legal Perspective on TBIs

Car Accidents and TBIs

Car accidents

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of TBIs. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI as a result of a car accident, you may have legal recourse to seek compensation for your injuries.

Advocacy for TBI Patients

It’s critical to have a legal ally following a TBI, particularly if the injury was due to another’s negligence. Legal representation can assist with navigating the complexities of medical bills, insurance claims, and potential lawsuits.

Ensuring the Best Possible Outcome

Following a TBI, it’s essential to focus on both medical and legal aspects. Immediate and thorough medical care can dramatically affect the outcome of a TBI. Simultaneously, legal guidance can ensure the patient’s rights are upheld, especially in cases where the injury was due to another party’s negligence. Always consult with medical providers for health concerns and with legal professionals, like our team at The Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A., for advice on potential legal actions.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)

Also known as a concussion, a mild traumatic brain injury is the most common type of TBI. Symptoms can include headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and difficulties with balance.

The Importance of Immediate Care

Even if a TBI is considered mild, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial. An emergency room visit allows for early diagnosis and treatment, which can prevent further complications.

Moderate TBI

Moderate traumatic brain injury can cause prolonged unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. There may be physical, cognitive, or behavioural impairments, which may be temporary or permanent.

Severe TBI

A severe TBI can be life-threatening. It involves an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. Severe injuries often result from a significant force or violence, such as a car accident or fall.

Diagnostic Techniques for Traumatic Brain Injury

Neurological Exam

Neurological Exam

This is usually the first step in diagnosing a TBI. Doctors assess functions such as muscle strength, eye movement, sensation, and coordination. Slurred speech, weakness, and body numbness are potential signs of a traumatic injury.

Blood Test

Emerging research suggests that certain proteins released by nerve cells into the blood following a TBI can indicate the presence of a brain injury.

CT Scans

Computed tomography (CT) scans are often used in emergency rooms to quickly visualize fractures and evidence of bleeding, blood clots, bruised brain tissue, and brain swelling.

Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

Physical Consequences

TBIs can result in physical problems such as persistent headaches, motor function difficulties, and seizures. More severe forms may result in skull fractures or cause problems with important bodily functions, such as blood pressure and blood vessels’ functionality.

Cognitive and Emotional Consequences

In addition to physical challenges, TBI patients can experience cognitive difficulties including problems with memory and reasoning. Emotional effects, such as mood swings or depression, are also common.

Preventive Measures and Disease Control

National Institutes like the CDC highlight the importance of wearing seat belts, using helmets, and preventing falls as key steps to limit TBIs and their severity.

Role of National Institute in TBI Research

Organizations like the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke are working on TBI research to understand and improve outcomes for these patients. Their research includes studying the biochemical changes after a TBI, rehabilitation strategies, and potential medications to limit damage and promote recovery.

Young Adults and TBIs

Therapist for brain injury

TBIs are the leading cause of disability and even death in young adults. This highlights the need for awareness, prompt diagnosis, and effective treatment of TBIs in this age group.

The Importance of Emotional Support

The road to recovery can be long and difficult for TBI patients. Therefore, emotional support from family, friends, and support groups can be an invaluable resource for recovery.

Legal Implications of TBIs

TBIs often result from accidents due to negligence. It’s important for TBI victims to seek legal guidance to understand their rights and potential avenues for compensation.

Remember, while this article provides useful information, it’s crucial to consult with medical professionals for health-related issues and a legal team for any potential legal actions. The Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A. is here to help with the legal aspects of your TBI journey.


Traumatic brain injuries can have profound impacts on the victim’s life, affecting physical health, cognitive abilities, and emotional well-being. Understanding how a traumatic brain injury is diagnosed is crucial for victims, as timely diagnosis and treatment can significantly affect the outcome. For individuals who have suffered TBIs due to another’s negligence, it’s essential to seek legal help. Our team at the Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A. can guide you through the legal process, helping you to understand your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.

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