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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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