A brain injury following a car accident isn’t always obvious. It can take a day or more for symptoms to appear. People with brain injuries do not always lose consciousness, and sometimes symptoms aren’t apparent to the victim. If you were in a car accident and feel dazed or “out-of-it,” or if family and friends think you are behaving strangely, get yourself to the doctor as soon as possible.
Anyone involved in a serious automobile accident should seek input from a physician, even if the impact did not send them to the hospital. It is not unusual for a person suffering from a head injury to lack the perception necessary to make an informed decision regarding testing. In some cases, such tests are lifesavers.
Diagnostics for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
If the doctor suspects you suffered a concussion, the mildest form of traumatic brain injury, there are four basic tests he or she will likely conduct. Along with asking questions about the accident and your symptoms, the doctor will perform a neurological examination. This exam evaluates your vision, coordination, balance, speech and reflexes.
The next test involves your cognition, or ability to think. This segment includes memory tests as well as requests to follow simple directions and perform certain tasks. For example, the doctor may ask a patient to name 10 words beginning with a particular letter or to identify photos of famous people.
CT- or computed tomography – scans are similar to X-rays. The patient lies on a table, with the head going into the scanner. The machine then takes images of the brain and skull. These images can show whether there is swelling or bleeding in the brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and magnets to provide detailed, two-and-three dimensional brain pictures. The MRI can show smaller areas of damage than the CT scan. For instance, it can pick up evidence of a blood clot in the head – a potentially life-threatening situation.
Neither the MRI nor CT scan can definitively diagnose a concussion, in that the damage does not always appear on the scans. A positive image indicates some level of brain trauma, but a negative image does not mean a concussion didn’t occur.
Most people recover from concussions within a few weeks. If you or a loved one got involved in a significant car accident, your doctor may need to perform some or all of these tests. If suffering or unusual behavior continues after these preliminary tests are completed, you may require a more extensive workup.
Our personal injury attorneys can help you strategize to obtain compensation for damages and medical bills; call us at 602-283-4122 to schedule a consultation.