Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is sudden damage to the brain caused by a blow to the head or something that has caused the brain to jolt within the skull. Common causes of TBI include sport injuries, car crashes, falls, or assaults. The impact and severity of a TBI depends on the injury and resulting damage to the brain. Damage can be confined to a specific lobe of the brain, or damage may be widespread throughout the brain. TBI can be considered mild, moderate, or severe. Mild TBI-the person is generally awake following the accident, but they may experience confusion, memory loss, disorientation, headache, and/or a brief loss of consciousness less than 20 minutes in duration. Moderate TBI-the person may experience loss of consciousness lasting 20 minutes to 6 hours. Some brain swelling or brain bleeding may cause drowsiness, but the person can still be aroused. Severe TBI-the person is unconscious for longer than 6 hours. The eyes do not open, even when stimulation is applied. Approximately 1.5 to 2 million adults and children experience a TBI each year in the United States. Those who survive TBI can face lasting changes to their body, emotional, cognitive, and psychological functioning. Many people with moderate to severe TBI will require rehabilitation to recover and relearn skills.
Neuropsychological assessment is often critical to understand the nature and severity of a TBI. When cognitive complaints are reported or continue to persist following mild TBI in adults, neuropsychological testing can assist with diagnosis and treatment planning. The process of neuropsychological evaluation typically begins with a clinical interview, and then includes cognitive tests to measure the various domains of cognitive functioning. Tests of psychological functioning are also included to measure for possible concerns with mental health. Because injuries that cause mild TBI can cause widespread neurological, psychological, and social consequences, a comprehensive evaluation is recommended in order to identify the best course of treatment for the individual that presents for the evaluation.