A Virginian’s brain injury often happens quickly. A high speed car crash or a sudden fall can lead to life-altering consequences. Due to the emergency nature of traumatic brain injuries, it is essential that doctors quickly and effectively assess the nature of a patient’s brain injury. They have a number of methods by which to do so.

Via the Glasgow Coma Scale, a medical professional will assess the nature of a person’s head injury by observing the patient’s ability to follow directions, to speak coherently, and to move their limbs and eyes. Treating medical professionals will gauge the severity of the brain injury on the 15-point scale, with a higher score equating to a less severe injury.

Once in the hospital, doctors may perform either a CT scan or an MRI. A computerized tomography scan, or CT scan, provides a view of an injured person’s brain by a series of X-rays. It can document any fractures or other bleeding in the brain that may be occurring. Via magnetic resonance imaging, or an MRI, doctors use radio waves and magnets to create a view of the brain and observe its condition. This treatment may not be used until the patient is in a stable condition.

If a patient has swelling in the brain due to a severe injury, doctors may choose to insert a probe into the skull. Such intracranial pressure monitoring allows physicians to monitor the level of pressure in a person’s brain to ensure that it is at an appropriate level.

There are a number of tests that medical professionals may perform to asses a patient’s brain injuries. Even those who do not have medical training may be able to provide helpful information immediately following an injury. Knowing how an injury occurred and whether a patient lost consciousness, and if so, for how long, can provide useful information for a patient’s medical care.

Source: Mayo Clinic, “Traumatic Brain Injury: Tests and Diagnosis“, accessed Sept. 20, 2015