Injuries to the brain can come from several sources and can be of wide ranging magnitude from so subtle as to not be outwardly noticeable to profound leaving the individual in a vegetative state. Sources of brain injury can include deprivation of oxygen during birth, physical trauma during birth from forceps or vacuum deliveries, bleeding into the skull compressing the brain at birth from forceps or vacuum deliveries, bleeding into the brain from prematurity at birth, infection of the brain, strokes, blunt trauma from falls, blunt trauma from auto accidents, blunt trauma from blows to the head in falls or fights, lack of oxygen from any number of sources such as drowning, clogging of the airway, contrecoup injury from sudden acceleration/deceleration of the brain within the skull, and more.
Moderate to severe brain injury can often be visually obvious or detected by standard neurological testing by a physician (usually a neurologist). More subtle mild injuries to the brain require sophisticated diagnostic imaging and often neuro-psychological testing by a clinical psychologist with special training in neuro-psychology.
The diagnostic imaging used to determine brain injury usually consists of CAT, MRI, SPECT and PET scans. CT, or CAT scans (sometimes called “computerized axial tomography”), are X-ray tests producing images which are cross sections or image slices of the body using X-rays and a computer. The computer can assemble and analyze the slices which are read by a neuro-radiologist. MRI scans (“magnetic resonance imaging”) are medical tests using a magnetic field creating a detailed picture of the brain which can be interpreted by computer and neuro-radiologists. The SPECT scan is a single-photon emission computed tomography test. It uses a nuclear imaging technique with gamma rays and can provide true 3D imaging which can be presented in slices or manipulated as needed by the neuro-radiologist. PET scans (“Positron-emission tomography”) are an imaging technique utilizing gamma rays and a positron emitting tracer to observe metabolic processes in the body. Computer analysis reconstructs 3D images. In the context of neuro-imaging, PET scans are based on the assumption that areas of high radioactivity correlate with brain activity. Neuro-radiologists interpreting these various diagnostic imaging studies can draw conclusions about the areas of the brain affected, the extent of the damage, as well as sometimes the causes of the area of damage.
Neuropsychological evaluation conducted by a neuropsychologist acquires data about a person’s cognitive, motor, behavioral, linguistic, and executive functioning in the brain. It is essentially a paper and pencil test procedure correlated with interviews and interpreted by a neuropsychologist which generates data that can provide information leading to the diagnosis of cognitive deficits, damage to executive reasoning function, motor, behavioral and language functions.
Utilizing these techniques health care professionals can diagnose and draw conclusions about the nature and extent of brain injury, and it can be very beneficial to have a brain injury lawyer Orlando, Fl trusts on your side.
Special thanks to Andrew Needle from Needle & Ellenberg, P.A., for his insights into brain injury law.