Do I Have a Brain Injury? Symptom Discovery Quiz

Gail Denton, PhD, Demos Medical Publishing
BrainLash: Questionnaire

This questionnaire will help focus your symptom discovery for brain injury. When answering these questions, do so in light of how you are presently functioning.

  • Have you been in an accident recently, say, within the last year?
  • Did you hit your head? Were you shaken, or did you experience a physical impact?
  • Were you taken to the hospital?
  • What was your diagnosis?
  • What doctors are you currently seeing?
  • Were x-rays, MRI, or CT scan taken? SPECT scan?
  • What medications are you currently taking? Were you given a prescription for this event?

Please read this list and indicate any problems you may be having. Remember to distinguish and notice if you had the problem or condition before the accident when evaluating if you have the condition presently. Note if it made a pre-existing issue worse.

Rate your problems on the following scale: Never, Occasionally, Sometimes, Frequently, or Always.


  • Do you have more headaches since your injury? Pain in the temples or forehead?
  • Do you have pain in the back of your head? Does it move forward? Are there moments of very sharp or stabbing pain that lasts for a few moments?
  • Do you tire more easily, either mentally or physically? Does fatigue worsen with pressured thinking or emotional situations?
  • Are your neck and shoulders beginning to hurt? Tingling down your arms? Overall aching feeling? Overall pain upon waking in the morning?
  • Are you overly sensitive to light, sound, motion, or intense environments? Do you have dark spots before you eyes or blurred vision? Does it get worse with fatigue?


  • Do you lose or misplace items?
  • Do you forget what people tell you? Or what you have said to others?
  • Do you forget where you parked your car? Or your current driving destination?
  • Do you forget what you’ve read? Or the last TV or radio topic?
  • Are you having difficulty remembering life details from the past?

Attention and Concentration

  • Are you having trouble concentrating? Holding a thought?
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating in noisy or strongly lit environments?
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating on more than one topic or task at a time?
  • Do you have difficulty focusing your attention while reading or watching TV?
  • Are you having difficulty staying focused when you are driving?
  • Do you have difficulty making decisions? Or remembering what you decided?
  • Do you drift off in conversation, unable to recall what has been said?
  • Is it stressful to read and answer this questionnaire?
  • Are you easily distracted? When interrupted, do you struggle to find your place again or return to your task?
  • Have you become impulsive, making decisions or remarks without thinking them through? Unintentionally hurting someone’s feelings? Impulse shopping?

Language and Communication

  • Do you have difficulty following a conversation?
  • Do you have difficulty thinking of the exact word or words you want to use?
  • Do you have problems expressing yourself in writing?
  • Is it difficult conversing with others or staying in a conversation?
  • Are you struggling to spell words? Do you reverse the letters?
  • Are you pronouncing words correctly? Is your tongue twisting words around or relocating words inaccurately in a sentence?

Visual Perception

  • Do you have increased sensitivity to light, sound, shopping, party, or large meeting environments?
  • Do objects seem closer or farther away than they actually are?
  • When reading, do printed letters appear to change their shape or position on the page? Are you experiencing eye strain or headaches when reading?
  • Do you have difficulty focusing your eyes on objects?
  • Do you feel dizzy or nauseous? Are you bumping into objects more than usual? Whacking your elbows, hitting your head, or stubbing your toes frequently?
  • Do your eyes struggle to track written text or follow moving objects?

Executive Function

  • Do you have difficulty following through with planning for work or leisure activities? Do you accurately gauge the time a task will take?
  • Do you have problems setting goals and priorities and keeping to your plan?
  • Do you have difficulty starting new tasks? Does a new task trigger depression, hopelessness or fatigue? Do you struggle to get in the mood to begin?
  • Do you have difficulty monitoring and correcting your errors?
  • Do you have difficulty changing from one task to another?
  • Are you able to anticipate the consequences of your actions? Can you foresee outcomes or project the future of a task.
  • Are you checking and rechecking your work? Does the slightest disruption in your routine derail you?
  • Are you unintentionally repeating yourself in conversation?

Emotional Function

  • Have you noticed frequent mood swings or emotional outbursts?
  • Do you have difficulty handling your anger?
  • Do you feel depressed? Are you fearful? Have you lost hope? Are you tired of fighting for recovery? Just want your life back the way it was?
  • Do you have feelings of anxiety, jumpiness, or nervousness?
  • Do family and friends comment on changes in your behavior? Are people living around you on the outskirts of you?
  • Trouble sleeping? Poor appetite or binge eating? Craving stimulant foods?
  • Do you feel hopeless, although you can identify things that are hopeful or positive? Does hope feel just out of your reach?
  • Have you become gullible? Easily distractible or unintentionally naïve? Can you tell when you are being teased, and do you respond with humor?
  • Are you easily startled, agitated, or irritated? Do you respond with aggression? Feel tense or wound up all the time? Overly sensitive to your environment?

Finances and Measurements

  • Do you have difficulty easily performing simple addition and subtraction?
  • Can you easily make change at the store?
  • Do you struggle to balance your checkbook as accurately as before?
  • Do you remember to open your mail, sort it, and pay your bills on time?
  • Can you follow a recipe easily, or comprehend and follow instructions to assemble or operate something? Can you easily follow a map or directions to a location?

Organization and Sequencing

  • Do you have difficulty following the steps of a recipe?
  • Do you attend to your mail on a regular basis? Can you accurately sort the junk mail and focus on mail worthy of your time and energy?
  • Do you struggle with performing, initiating, or keeping up with normal, routine household chores?
  • Do you have difficulty performing more than one household task at a time?
  • Can you effectively manage your time? Do you lose track of time?
  • Do you set priorities and fulfill your obligations?
  • Do you follow through on a project to the end, or do you set it aside with good intentions, yet ultimately abandon it?


  • Do you forget to turn off the iron, stove, tea pot, or other household appliances?
  • Do you forget where you are going when driving your car?
  • Do you forget to lock your doors at home? Do you lock your car doors? Garage door?
  • Do you forget important appointments (e.g., picking up the kids, going to your doctor’s appointment, banking your paycheck)?
  • Do you feel like your safety awareness levels are less than they should be?
  • Has your tolerance for alcohol, caffeine, or drugs decreased?


Other quick questions you may relate to include: (Answering: Never, Occasionally, Sometimes, Frequently, and Always)

  • Remembering where your keys, glasses, purse, wallet are?
  • Remembering to brush your teeth, eat breakfast, and shower?
  • Remembering how to do all the parts of your job?
  • Do you lose track of time? Forget to eat? Forget who you just dialed on the phone?
  • Are you sleeping well? Are you easily fatigued?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed, or unable to cope?
  • Are you intolerant of noise? Even traffic noise? Even the dishwasher?
  • To have a successful conversation, must you turn off the radio or TV first?
  • Are you restless? Do you worry more? Lack patience?
  • Are you overwhelmed by simple pleasures, or by people you used to enjoy?
  • Do you feel like you are “losing it?” Out of control? Going crazy?
  • Do you hopelessly search for the word you want?
  • Is your speech slurred or jumbled? Are you inventing words that get jammed into each other?
  • Is your body’s temperature in control? Your appetite?
  • Are there changes in your sex drive or sexual response? Is orgasm a struggle?
  • Are there changes to your menses? Your sleep cycle? Digestive rhythm?

Likely, you see yourself in these questions. Somehow, your brain and emotional functions are different than they were before your incident. You need to know that you are not alone, and you are not crazy. There are actions you can take to enhance your mending process and to maximize your brain’s opportunity to recover and function to its highest potential.

Posted on BrainLine June 19, 2009.

From BrainLash: Maximize Your Recovery from Mild Brain Injury, Third Edition by Gail L. Denton, PhD. Demos Medical Publishing, 2008. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Comments (14)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

Oh my god you all sound like me. I have either been knocked unconscious or had a massive bang dozens of tim

I’m 40 and I exhibit almost all of these behaviors and difficulties. I have had around 16 concussions and class 2 TBIs.

I am not the same person anymore, have regressed more and more and my symptoms become more and more severe. I am so impulsive angry and agitated always. I am aggressive and make bad decisions and cannot do basic things without help. I am more and more clumsy and have dementia and mania and psychotic episodes. I feel like someone else is driving the majority of the time. My personality has completely changed.

I have been placed on more and more and stronger medicine and nothing seems to work. I realize I don’t have much time and my faith in God has near eroded. I cannot maintain friendships or any relationships and feel like a burden on everyone and have no dignity left at all. I engage in dangerous behaviors and also can’t hold my bladder or bowels sometimes. I want to commit suicide but am scared to die bc I think God is angry with me. I don’t know how much more I can take.

Don’t give up. You haven’t yet, and something tells me you know you can do this. Surround yourself with a supportive group of friends and family. It’s about realizing you’re not alone and you don’t owe anybody anything. Just breathe and simplify your thoughts. It sounds like you have a cascade of thoughts that are hard to control. Start there, thought control, seek help from the community. Get some hobbies that allow you to visualize something and then achieve it. I believe in you. I’m right there with you.

yep, I have brain damage

I have had several bad falls, where I hit my head at different times in my life.

When I was 16 I was showing off on my quad runner.I think it was a quad runner anyway. I was thrown off and landed on my head. No helmet. I believe I have frontal lobe damage but was never diagnosed. I am 46, been married 5 times, never able to hold down a job, slowly slipping more in to myself, Having weird delusions. I was a normal individual before this accident happened. I am quick to anger, I am not able to inhibit my thoughts when I get angry, all kinds of things. I cannot plan things very well and I get tired mentally VERY quickly and another personality emerged also.

It is a weird thing, the brain. and mine is messed up pretty good from that accident. I get my scan pretty soon to see exactly what is going on. I hope you are well.

I’ve just come to realize (I’m now 63) how much a couple of early accidents (complete with concussions) have affected me. As well, I think I’ve been in denial — I see so much of myself in the questions above, so many of my current and long-standing challenges, especially with executive-function related issues. I think, too, that aging is/will contribute to additional cognitive challenges for me.

It is hard not to despair.

I do have T.B.I.

Marijauna helps a lot. I was almost beaten to Death on Dec 12, 1994. I was seeing 3 and possible 4xs vision. I had to put my hands over my eyes to keep them in my sockets. I was reinjured at better-built lumber where they would not give me my workman's comp papers to sign. It took about six months to see a neurologist. Took a CAT scan and MRI and results came up negative. Bullshit, as the MRI itself made me dizzy as hell. I had to sit for a while.

Lights affect me. Even the pilot light on stove effects me. Everything I read about T.B.I fits me to a T.

I  love my coffee, but I seem to worsen when I sleep. I have to be super conscious because if I sleep on my right side I wake up very concussed and the day is already wrecked. I take my vitamin E which helps. Recently my neurologist was transferred. My personal doctor is no better.

My life has literary been turned UPSIDE DOWN. Nobody wants to help me and being honest I can't believe I'm going through this bs. I'm trying to collect SS Disability and my lawyer after a year and a half dropped me as a client. I recently worked as a pizza delivery man, and the heat of the oven was killing me. I'm seven months behind in my rent. What an ugly nightmare.

I didn't miss a question. Everyone thinks that I have a drug problem. The ringing in my ears is so loud that i worry about other people hearing it. I have been seeing myself from a distance it seems, it's like I don't remember me. I asked my ex wife when did my memory get so bad and she said after the injury. I feel like i have an explanation but no way to stop it. I miss myself and i am not able to get help. Where does someone like me go to get help? I know that I am getting worse. I have no problem with being an experiment if someone could benefit from it. There was a time when i was a good person and helped a lot of people, i have beautiful children who are great. I have to keep my self away so i don't let them see this. At least i have been honest, I know that i have something wrong in my head.

Tim, first it seems like the biggest issue for those of us with MTBI (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) is finding help. At least that is what I have found. To start you might try the Resource Directory at the top right of this page to see if there is help in your area. Also I found a couple books that really helped me understand what is going on. Both were written by people who have first hand experienced with brain injuries. The first is "Mild Traumatic Brain Injury : the Guidebook" by Mary Lou Acimovic. lt is a great place to start because it helps with understanding what is going on . And to me that was huge. The second is "Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury" by Diane Roberts Stoler. It is good because it is full of information but is written in more of a text book format. It also defines the difference between Mild, Moderate and Severe TBI. This is also helpful to know when you are looking for help. I found both on Amazon and am very glad that I did. I also use the website Lumosity to help me retrain my brain and found that it has helped. It may seem like doing the exercises there is not doing anything but I found with repetition and time the brain does improve. The second book is good because it gives you an insight to the many options for treatments. That is helpful in deciding what to do. Which is not easy when the brain isn't cooperating. Anyway I hope somehow this helps and never forget that good person that you were/are. One step at a time brother one step at a time.

That is a beautiful perspective to have Tim. I am sure you will find what you are looking for if you don't give up. I myself underwent a brain injury and one of the number one things that has helped me is the mentality of: If I don't seek answers or help, I will never find either of those things. The saying "ask and you shall receive" only works if you do the asking. I take this one step further and have the personal saying of "seek and you shall find" but like with the previous saying you have to seek or ask to find or get answers. Keep on looking because each question asked is one closer to the answers that will help you.

Also, thank you so much for your comment Wes! The books you mentioned sound VERY helpful! A book that personally helped me was the Brain's Way of Healing by Norman Doidge! It is written by a highly accredited psychiatrist and talks about different cases of people who were deemed medically hopeless and how through something called neuroplasticity were able to recover! The writer of the book has a very relatable and lighthearted approach to the cases at hand. It has really helped me to realize that there is hope for either extreme improvement or even recovery. I highly recommend! Thank you again for the tips! One step at a time indeed! :)

Ty , I ordered both

Hi Krissy were those books helpful?

I have a broken skull that keeps swelling apart, having intense migraines that make me just wanna curl up into a ball. I get tunnel vision when this happens and my ears ring, I get to where I can't complete sentences and have trouble understanding common conversations with people. I have a horrible time with my short term memory as well.