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 used to detect clots (deep venous thrombosis) in blood vessels of the legs. Safe and painless.
A test to find heterotopic ossification (excess bone growth); involves injection of medicine followed by images obtained by a special camera. Radiation exposure is the same as a spinal x-ray.
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. It is safe and painless, 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 evaluate peripheral nerve function and signals, can diagnose nerve injuries, and predict nerve recovery.
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 unable to have 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 by blocking nerve-to-muscle pathway and allowing the muscle to relax. Injections can be mildly uncomfortable.
A surgical procedure that places a drain from ventricles of brain into abdomen to remove excess fluid in hydrocephalus. Patients are watched closely for signs of infection.
Video swallow assessment
X-ray measures swallowing ability. A physician and speech pathologist monitor swallowing of different substances to ensure that food is not aspirated (goes into the lungs rather than the stomach).
Internal images to view fractures in bones and look at lungs for possible pneumonia. Painless, but involves 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; sometimes used to treat spasticity.
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