How do doctors diagnose a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) isn't always easy for doctors to diagnose. In fact, it's not uncommon for a car accident victim with a serious brain injury to go home after an accident because the doctor failed to detect the signs of a TBI.

A delayed TBI diagnosis is especially problematic because victims need to receive specific medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent the worsening of their symptoms. Also, victims need a diagnosis to support any legal claims for damages that may arise from the accident.

How doctors look for brain injuries: The Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a 15-point checklist that doctors run through when they suspect someone may be suffering from a serious TBI. The Glasgow Coma Scale assesses the patient's ability to follow simple directions, move the eyes and move the limbs. It also looks for problems with speech that could indicate a TBI.

Witnesses to the accident and accident victims themselves may also be useful to doctors and emergency medical technicians when they arrive at the accident scene. Here's some vital information you can provide to help assess for brain injuries:

  • The way the accident happened.
  • Did the victim suffer a loss of consciousness?
  • Did the victim suffer loss of speech, alertness, coordination or show any other signs of an injury?
  • Did the victim suffer any strikes to the body or head?
  • How hard was the force of the injury? What struck the person, what was the length of the fall or how heavy was the object that hit him or her?
  • Did the victim's body get whipped around or jarred quickly?

When brain injuries are part of a personal injury lawsuit

It's important to gather evidence of brain injuries carefully. Sometimes the defense tries to claim that TBI victims didn't, in fact, have a brain injury. This can be an effective defense if the plaintiff doesn't handle the presentation of brain injury evidence carefully.

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