Motor vehicle accidents rank among the most common causes of traumatic brain injury according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The impact of TBI can range from a mild concussion to a disabling condition with severe mental and physical effects.

Seeking immediate medical treatment when you or a loved one suffers a head injury will improve the chances of a successful recovery.

Brain injury diagnosis

When a patient enters the emergency department after a head injury, the doctor will assess the presence and severity of a TBI using the Glasgow Coma Scale. This 15-point diagnostic evaluation checks the ability to move, understand and respond to instructions. Low scores indicate a significant TBI while higher scores indicate a less severe injury.

The doctor will do a CT scan to check the brain tissue for swelling, bruising, hemorrhage and blood clots. When symptoms are severe or do not improve within several hours, an MRI can provide more information about the injury by creating a series of detailed images of the brain.

Treatment modalities

Treatment for a TBI varies on the extent of the injury. After gathering information with diagnostic tests, the doctor will create a treatment plan. For a mild concussion, this usually includes rest, close monitoring of symptoms and over-the-counter medication to treat associated headache pain.

Moderate to severe TBI is an emergency situation. Priorities include ensuring that the person has enough oxygen and blood flow. Medications can limit further brain damage after a TBI. These may include diuretics to reduce pressure within the brain tissue, antiseizure drugs and medications to induce a coma and give the brain time to heal.

Some patients require surgery to treat brain damage associated with a TBI. These procedures can stop bleeding within the brain, relieve pressure, repair fractures and remove blood clots.

If your loved one hits his or her head in a fall or auto accident, call 911. Document his or her medical treatment carefully so you can recoup your costs in the case of personal injury liability.