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Diagnostics of a traumatic brain injury

Unfortunately, there are no clear signs that can indicate an irreversible damage to the brain due to a certain trauma. To diagnose this disease in time, doctors take into account any complaints and symptoms that patient have.
Here are some of them:

Loss of consciousness

Fainting is a short-term loss of consciousness caused by a temporary disruption of cerebral blood flow.

The duration of such episode can vary from a few seconds to several days (coma). Focal traumas of the head (bullet damage) affect the hemispheres of the brain without causing fainting whereas blunt traumas cause one. However, fainting does not always indicate a serious brain damage, the duration of an episode does. The longer the period of unconsciousness, the more severe the injury. At the scene of the accident doctors assess the neurological state of the person according to the Glasgow Coma Scale. The scale consists of three tests which evaluate the eye opening reflex, as well as speech and motor reactions. For each test, a certain number of points is awarded. Eye-opening test gives points from 1 to 4, speech reaction test - from 1 to 5, motor reaction test - from 1 to 6 points. The minimum possible score is 3 (deep coma), the maximum one is 15 (clear consciousness).

Post-traumatic amnesia

Amnesia is a condition characterized by a lack of memories or incomplete memories of what had happened in the past.
Post-traumatic amnesia can be a result of a head injury, such as a stroke or falling on the head. The person may not remember the events that happened before the injury (retrograde amnesia) and the events that followed the trauma (anterograde amnesia). Patients with a longer-lasting post-traumatic amnesia tend to have a more severe form of trauma. Studies have shown that such patients are not able to fully assess the severity of their own amnesia. Thus, family members need to help the patient to determine the severity of complications. Memories return in chronological order, starting with the oldest one. Memories of the latest events that preceded amnesia often never return.

Concussion is a sudden disruption of brain function. It is considered the mildest form of craniocerebral trauma with leads to a short-term loss of consciousness. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, disorientation, forgetfulness, irritability, depression, mood swings, insomnia and loss of libido. In most cases, the effects of a concussion disappear after a few months, but in about 20% of cases there can be complications requiring treatment.


Encephalopathyis a brain damage of a non-inflammatory nature. Symptoms are mostly neurotic and psychopathic. Symptoms include stupor, confusion, loss of memory, poor attention, anxiety and sudden aggression. Encephalopathy occurring after a head injury indicates a disruption in the brain function. Such disruption will not remain constant in most cases. Treatment of encephalopathy depends on its cause.
Encephalopathy can be congenital and acquired. The second can can be caused by poisoning, infections, alcoholism, trauma, hypovitaminosis, cerebral vascular disease or lack of vitamin B1).

Attack (seizure)

Seizure is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases. It develops when body has predisposition to the sudden convulsive attacks.

Nerve cells are interconnected electrically and chemically. One nerve sends an electrical discharge along the axon to stimulate the work of the other nerve. Stimulation is actually carried out chemically. When an electric discharge reaches the end of an axon, electricity facilitates the movement of chemical "mediators" to the receptors of the next nerve cells. This process happens progressively. The seizure develops as a result of a sudden uncontrolled influx of electrical energy into the brain which resembles a short circuit. As a result of this disruption, people lose consciousness, fall and fight in convulsions. Uncontrolled discharges in the focal region lead to weakening of the functions for which each particular brain area is responsible. Such seizures appear as periodic attacks in the form of numbness, fear, anxiety, twitching of limbs, trembling of the lips or inability to speak.

Checking response of pupils

Checking the response of pupils in order to assess the patient’s condition of how they react to light. Asymmetrical or non-reactive pupils of the patient in a coma indicate a strong increase of intracranial pressure caused by a tumor, hematoma, hydrocephalus, etc. Such cases require urgent surgery to eliminate the increased pressure.

Also see other articles on this topic:

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