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What Tests are Required to Determine the Extent of a Brain Injury?

Few injuries have the potential to change victims’ lives like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs are injuries caused by an impact to the head, such as in a fall or a car crash. Concussions are one of the most common forms of TBI.

People who suffer TBIs are often affected in unpredictable and often profound ways. Some victims may experience changes in personality and judgment, while others may experience cognitive difficulties and impaired balance.

In order to be fully compensated for brain injuries that they suffer in accidents, victims need accurate diagnoses. However, TBIs aren’t visible to the naked eye, and simply describing their symptoms is rarely enough to get victims the money they’re owed. Instead, they need accurate and trustworthy evidence that they and their lawyers can show the insurance company.

If you or someone you love suffered a TBI, these tests can help your doctor determine its full extent.

CT Scan

A computerized tomography (CT) scan takes X-ray images of a person’s brain from different angles. Once compiled, these images show a complete picture of their brain. This imagery makes it easier for doctors and surgeons to determine the extent of a person’s brain injury, including what regions were damaged and whether their brain is bleeding, bruised, or severely damaged.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) works similarly to a CT scan, but instead of using X-rays, it uses magnets and radio waves. It also produces clearer and more detailed images of the brain than a CT scan. However, because it’s a costlier and more time-consuming scan, it’s rarely done for an initial diagnosis. Instead, MRIs are typically used during follow-up examinations or to get clearer pictures of damaged areas of the brain.

Glasgow Coma Scale

Despite its name, this test isn’t solely performed on people in comas or who are suspected to be comatose. It measures three things:

  • Ability to speak, including whether victims can speak at all, and if they can, whether they speak normally and if the things they say make sense.
  • Ability to open eyes, including whether victims open their eyes at will or only when asked to do so.
  • Ability to move, which ranges from being able to move easily and with no pain to not moving even in response to pain, such as pinching.

Victims are scored in all three categories based on their responses to each test. Victims whose combined scores are 13 or higher may have suffered only mild brain injuries, victims who score between 12 and 9 may have suffered moderate brain injuries, while victims who score 8 or below may have suffered severe brain injuries.

These tests may be performed again and again as victims recover from their brain injuries to show whether they are improving and, if so, which functions they’re regaining.

Cognition Tests

Doctors may have patients undergo speech and language tests to determine if their ability to use language, which includes speaking, reading, and writing, was affected by their injuries. They also may have them participate in role-playing scenarios to find out if their behavior and socialization skills were diminished or altered.

Some patients may be tested on their thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, understanding, and memorization abilities. Finally, patients may be tested to determine how well they can control their behavior and actions in a variety of scenarios. All of these tests can help doctors determine the extent of victims’ brain injuries, especially when used in conjunction with imaging tests like CT scans and MRIs.

Blood Test

According to the National Institutes of Health, blood tests are an emerging area of research for diagnosing traumatic brain injuries, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a blood test for TBI diagnosis in 2018.

The blood test is used to detect the presence of two proteins called UCH-L1 and GFAP which are released into the brain when a mild concussion occurs. This can help doctors determine if a person suffered a TBI when a CT scan doesn’t show evidence of an injury.

Let Us Build Your Brain Injury Claim

The first steps towards getting compensation for a traumatic brain injury are proving that it happened due to someone else’s negligence and proving its severity and disruption to your life. That means getting a prompt and accurate diagnosis, which may require getting a second opinion from another doctor if you think your symptoms weren’t taken seriously or your TBI wasn’t properly diagnosed.

But it’s not enough to have an accurate diagnosis—you also need an aggressive and experienced legal team. That’s where we come in. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma City brain injury attorneys know how to build claims for innocent victims like you. Contact us today for a free consultation. We want to help you get the money you’re owed.