By Dr. Jeffrey Walden, Psy.D., MBA
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) may have a far-reaching impact on patients and their loved ones. When a TBI occurs, a neuropsychological evaluation may be requested by the treating physician.
A TBI occurs when an individual experiences trauma to the head causing injuries affecting brain function. It may be caused by a blow to the head, acceleration-deceleration events/blast injuries, or when an object penetrates the skull and damages brain tissue. Initial severity of a traumatic brain injury is often defined by the length of loss of consciousness and amount of memory loss.
A mild brain injury occurs if the patient’s loss of consciousness duration is less than 30 minutes. Mild brain injuries may also be referred to as concussions. There may be little evidence of the injury detectable on brain scans such as CT or MRI, but damage may still have occurred at a cellular level. Although they are described as “mild,” these types of injuries may still result in significant disruption of the patient’s day to day life, particularly in the initial days or weeks after the injury. For a small number of patients, these problems may persist indefinitely. To learn more about mild brain injuries and their symptoms, please click here.
A severe brain injury occurs if the patient’s loss of consciousness duration exceeds 30 minutes and the length of memory loss is greater than 24 hours. For these patients, results of brain scans often identify areas of damage to brain structures, and substantial disruption of mental, physical, and emotional functions may be present. To learn more about severe brain injuries and their symptoms, please click here.
A moderate brain injury falls between a mild and severe injury and may share characteristics with both types of injuries.
It is important to understand that the long-term outcomes of individuals who have experienced TBI can vary substantially regardless of initial injury characteristics. After the initial medical crisis, a number of additional factors become important in assessing and treating survivors of TBI, including thinking skills, emotional / behavioral functioning, physical symptoms, and daily living skills. A neuropsychological evaluation assists in determining specific skills affected by a brain injury to guide development of treatment to facilitate the rehabilitation process following a TBI.
A neuropsychological assessment is a detailed evaluation of a patient’s brain functions. It seeks to gather information about thinking skills, emotional and behavioral functioning, and daily living skills. Participating in a neuropsychological evaluation can be a unique experience. To learn more about what to expect during a Neuropsychological Evaluation, click here .
A traumatic brain injury can be a serious injury with implications for patients and their loved ones. Neuropsychological testing is one of the available assessment tools to assist in determining the functional impact of a TBI and develop individualized treatment interventions to achieve the best possible rehabilitation outcome following a TBI.
To read more about Diagnosing and Rehabilitating Brain Injury, please click here.