In Part 2 of our series of articles on traumatic brain injuries as they pertain to the area of personal injury law, we will now begin to explore how diagnosis is made and more extensive symptoms of TBI.
As a refresher course, in Part 1 of Motorcycle Accidents and Their Impact on the Brain we sought to understand the extent of traumatic brain injury and the various outcomes it can have on a victim post-accident. We explained the three types of TBI (mild, moderate, severe) and the difference between focal and diffuse brain injuries.
Wide ranging, complex symptoms
The symptoms of TBI vary greatly based on the location of the injury (diffuse or focal) and the type of brain injury sustained (mild, moderate, severe). There is a wide range of symptoms that can occur due to the impact to the brain when it collides with the skull upon impact with a surface, such as the road in a motorcycle-related accident.
The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include but are not limited to:
- Lack of balance
- Memory loss and/or amnesia
- Visual disturbances
In diffuse injuries (such as a concussion) will generally cause a decreased level of consciousness to the victim. In focal injuries (such as a contusion) the area of the brain that becomes affected accounts for the type of symptoms the victim experiences.
These injuries most frequently occur in the following areas of the brain:
- Frontal lobe
- Temporal lobe
- Motor strip
- Sensory strip
- Occipital lobe
Accurate diagnosis, rapid response to providing medical care is a must
When a victim is rushed from the scene of the accident to the ER with a suspected TBI, in a short amount of time doctors must glean everything possible about the extent of the injury and the prognosis as it applies to the first 24-48 hours.
Glasgow Coma Score, a doctor’s best friend when the clock is ticking
There is no time to lose in a traumatic brain injury case, and doctors must be experienced enough to act in the best interest of the patient as quickly as possible.
For this reason, the Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) is applied to determine the extent of the damage to the patient’s brain. The GCS is a 15-point test used to “grade” a patient’s level of consciousness.
Let’s break down the steps used to assess the patient:
- Can the patient to open his or her eyes?
- Does the patient have the ability to respond appropriately to orientation-related questions (“What’s today’s date?” “Who is the President?” “What is your name?”)
- Does the patient possess the ability to follow commands?
If the patient is unable to follow commands or cannot remain conscious, the next thing that is assessed is whether the patient is able to feel pain when stimulated to do so. The number from each category is taken and added to form the GCS.
The GCS ranges from 3-15 and, in turn, the injury can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe in the most efficient way possible. A mild TBI has a score of 13-15, while moderate TBI scores 9-12, and severely brain injured patients score 8 and below.
The brain is a puzzle, and doctors can’t leave out a single piece
Diagnostic imaging such as MRI or CT scan are also performed upon arrival to the ER so that doctors can better assess a complete picture of the patient’s injuries and act quickly to stabilize them.
What’s next? Statistics, treatments, tips for staying safe on the open road
The subject of traumatic brain injury is an extensive and important one in the area of personal injury, and moreover for those who enjoy hitting the open road on their motorcycle. It’s important to be aware of the impact someone else’s negligent actions can have on you and to maintain your own safe driving record.
In Part 3 of this series, we will conclude our investigation into TBI and its related injuries with a look at the statistics of TBI in the United States and the treatments available for victims who suffer a traumatic brain injury.