Brain Injury: Common Tests and Procedures

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago-Brain Injury Team, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, LIFE CENTER
Brain Injury: Common Tests and Procedures

A brain injury usually happens out of nowhere, in an instant. You or your family have to learn a great deal fast. Here is information on common tests and procedures that may be needed for someone who has sustained a TBI.

Blood Flow/Doppler

An ultrasound test of the legs used to detect clots (deep venous thrombosis) in the blood vessels of the legs. This test is completely safe and does not hurt.

Bone Scan

A test to find heterotopic ossification (excess bone growth). It involves the injection of medicine followed by images obtained by a special camera. The radiation exposure is the same as an x-ray of the spine.

CT Scan

A special computerized x-ray that provides images of the brain and is sometimes used to look for suspected hydrocephalus.


Records the electrical activity of the brain and can sometimes help predict risk for seizures. It is safe and does not hurt, but does require the use of a medical adhesive that may cause discomfort when removed from the hair.

EMG/NCV (electromyogram and nerve conduction studies)

Records the electrical activity of muscles and nerves. It is used to predict risk for seizures. This is safe and painless, but does require the use of adhesive that can cause discomfort when removed from the hair.

Evoked Potential

Assesses the ability of nerves to send information from the body to the brain and is used to measure visual, hearing and sensory function, most often in minimally responsive patients who are unable to participate in a regular physical exam.

Gastric Tube Insertion

Provides nutrition and fluids through a tube, either surgically inserted in the stomach or inserted into the nose and throat and then down into the stomach.

MRI Scan

Provides detailed images of the brain using magnetic energy rather than radiation which is used in regular x-rays.

Nerve Block/Botulinum Toxin Injections

Used to treat spasticity. These work by blocking the nerve-to-muscle pathway and allowing the muscle to relax. The injections can be mildly uncomfortable.

Shunt (Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt)

Surgical procedure (done by a neurosurgeon) that places a drain from the ventricles of the brain into the abdomen. It helps drain excess fluid in the case of hydroencephalus. Patients with a shunt are watched closely for signs of infection.

Video Swallow Assessment

X-ray measures the ability to swallow safely. A physician and speech pathologist monitor swallowing of different substances to ensure that food is not aspirated (moves into the lungs rather than the stomach).


Internal images of the body that are best for seeing fractures in bones and to look at the lungs when pneumonia is suspected. X-rays do not hurt but do involve a small amount of radiation.

Intrathecal baclofen trial

Surgical procedure (done by a neurosurgeon and therapist) delivers medication into the spaces around the spinal cord. It is sometimes used to treat spasticity.

The content of this handout is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the advice of a physician or other health care professionals. Copyright 2007 Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Posted on BrainLine November 4, 2008

Copyright 2008 Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, LIFE Center,. Reprinted with permission.


You need to look up Brain State Technologies. I found a local provider last April. My injury was almost 20 years old with significant visual processing issues that led to debilitating dizziness/vestibular problems that stumped the neurologist, ENT and vision specialist. The improvement I have with Brain State's amazing technology is life changing. I went from being able to barely walk a block with a cane to now, 10 months later, hiking 3+ miles at a normal pace and feeling better than I have in those 20 years.

Why can't I locate information about Quantitative eeg testing?

After suffering from a traumatic brain injury every day of my life is blank. I have had a few dizzy spells and have passed out just like the brain is lacking oxygen. Doctors just keep throwing drugs at me and not helping me in any way. I wish I could get help with this as no one understands.

Suffered a tbi and have been telling the doctors that my eyes and ears are not registering to my brain. The annoying thing is that the doctors in this country don't understand you but I have now found a hospital that maybe able to help me if it is not too late. Why do you have to do everything yourself and not the doctors helping you. I am not enjoying my life now thanks to the doctors for not listening they should be struck off if they can't do there jobs properly.

I put on this site that I have suffered a tbi and I have since noticed when looking up again there was someone else who said they were in the same boat dated April. It would be a good idea if people could contact each other as I feel that some people don't understand what we really suffer.

I am in the same boat

Suffered a tbi and now can't sleep. Having been to hospital and stating that my eyes and ears are not registering to my brain I am now after two years being seen at moore fields eye hospital where I took myself as the doctors didn't believe what I was saying. I was brought back to life by paramedics after some time which has also affected my memory of my past life and now having problems with anything new.

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