Often with moderate or severe traumatic or acquired brain injury, the diagnosis is obvious. If the injury is moderate to severe, it can be clear from the presented symptoms that a brain injury has occurred. Injury to different areas of the brain will cause specific symptoms that are related to these areas. These symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dazed, confused, or disoriented
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears

In any event, a detailed neurological exam is essential and will help to determine if brain injury has indeed occurred. If the traumatic or acquired injury is milder, further assessment will be needed to provide a diagnosis.  Brain imaging with CAT scan, MRI, SPECT and PET scan may also be useful to help determine the location, severity, and type of injury to the brain. A mild brain injury may not show up on imaging studies or may not be diagnosed until the individual begins to have problems in tasks or social situations that were once easy. When this occurs, cognitive evaluation by a Neuropsychologist with formal neuropsychological testing can help to diagnose brain injuries and clarify the specific deficits involved in the injury.