How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are diagnosed with various tests that assess a person’s brain functions and level of consciousness. A detailed neurological examination is important for uncovering evidence of a brain injury. Doctors typically get images of the brain with CAT, MRI, SPECT and PET scans. Below, we explain other diagnostic tests used by doctors to identify traumatic brain injuries.

Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)

GCS tests three things:

  • A Person’s Ability to Speak
  • A Person’s Ability to Open Their Eyes
  • A Person’s Ability to Move

Doctors will rate the responses for each category and calculate a total score. A score of 13 and higher indicates a mild TBI, 9 through 12 indicates a moderate TBI, and 8 or below indicates severe TBI. It is important to note that the initial GCS score and a person's short or long-term recovery are not always correlated.

Measuring TBI Levels

Sometimes, a doctor will rank a person’s level of consciousness, memory loss, and GCS score to determine the severity of a TBI.

  • Mild TBI: Person was unconscious for less than 30 minutes. Memory loss lasts less than 24 hours. GCS score of 13 to 15.
  • Moderate TBI: Person was unconscious for more than 30 minutes. Memory loss lasts from 24 hours to 7 days. GCS score of 9 to 12.
  • Severe TBI: Person was unconscious for more than 24 hours. Memory loss lasts more than 7 days. GCS score of 8 or lower.

Speech & Language Tests

A speech-language pathologist will evaluate a person’s speech and language skills to determine if there is the presence of a TBI. These tests include an oral/motor evaluation of the muscles that control speech. They will also asses a person’s understanding and use of grammar and vocabulary, as well as their reading and writing abilities.

Do you have more questions about traumatic brain injuries? Contact our Dallas team of brain injury attorneysfor more information.


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