Diagnosis and Treatment


How is Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

The majority of brain injuries are mild injuries or concussions. All types of injuries can have serious health consequences. All brain injury's need prompt assessment by a professional that has experience evaluating brain injuries.

Mild Injury

Sometimes a mild injury or concussion is missed at the initial injury. MRI and CAT scans are often normal. Common symptoms can include:

  • Cognitive problems
  • Headache
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Memory problems
  • Attention deficits
  • Mood swings
  • Frustration

Standardized instruments such as the Acute Concussion Evaluation ACE  and the SCAT Sport Concussion Assessment tool provide a systematic way  to assess someone who has had a mild injury.  If symptoms persist often a neuropsychological evaluation can identify strategies to treat the ongoing symptoms.

Moderate to Severe Brain Injury

Health care providers may use one or more tests that assess a person's physical injuries, brain and nerve functioning, and level of consciousness.  The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) evaluates the functioning of an individual in three areas.  An individual's ability to speak, open their eyes and move. This scale allows the level of injury to be determined.

In most situations when this type of injury occurs the injury is often self evident and often other life threatening injuries have also occurred.  Other  tools used in the diagnosis process:


Mild Injury

Most people who have a mild traumatic brain injury get well and do not experience long term problems.  Steps should be taken to take care of yourself after your mild injury.  If a child's head has been hurt, certain precautions should be taken. A person with a mild injury should be monitored closely at home for any persistent, worsening or new symptoms.

Moderate to Severe Injury

Emergency care is needed for a moderate to severe injury.  The focus is on making sure the person has:

  • Oxygen.
  • Adequate blood supply.
  • Maintaining blood pressure.
  • Prevention of any further injury.

Medications can be used to limit secondary damage and surgery could be needed to remove a clot, repair a skull fracture or address any bleeding or the skull may need to be opened to relieve pressure.


Quick Guides

Our Quick Guides are short, simple introductions to specific topics about brain injury.

Search for a Community Resource

Community resources and supports are an important part of recovery after leaving the hospital or acute rehabilitation facility or if you are looking for services and supports after a mild injury.  The types of supports and services available can vary depending on where you live and what your needs are.  You can search our database of local resources online right here on our site.