Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injury
PUNTA GORDA, FL (June 13, 2012 by DJ Wik) - The brain is the most complex and arguably most important organ in the human body. Everything from the senses to the ability to move and speak is controlled by the fascinating collection of neurons located in your head. Unfortunately, like any aspect of your physiology, the brain is prone to injury.
Saeed Shahzad, M.D. a neurologist certified by the Academy of Sensory Electrodiagnostic Medicine and the American Board of Disability Analysis, works closely with Charlotte County’s victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Dr. Shahzad is often called into the ER at Charlotte Regional Medical Center or Peace River Regional Medical Center to assess and diagnose patients that suffer from injuries to the brain.
“Traumatic Brain Injury most often occurs in young people,” states Dr. Shahzad.
The top causes of TBI are results of automobile accidents, violence, and sports injuries. Athletes and young drivers sometimes find themselves in the ER as a result of a blow to the head. The unfortunate truth is that these young people do not often see a doctor for treatment as they disregard the strike as anything serious.
There are usually two types of traumatic brain injury. A closed head injury is indicated by a blow to the head with no bleeding, wound, or penetration. With this type of injury, an object strikes the head and jars the brain. The second classification is a penetrating wound and occurs when the skull and outermost covering of the brain is penetrated by a foreign object such as a bullet. The treatment for either type of TBI depends on the type, nature, and severity of impact.
A closed head injury is rated as mild, moderate, or severe. “If someone is driving along and someone else pulls out in front of them, they may hit their head,” explains Dr. Shahzad. “When they come to the ER, we have tools to determine what level of traumatic brain injury they suffered and what treatment is necessary.”
For traumatic brain injuries, Dr. Shahzad explains that the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) provides the first line of diagnosis. The Glasgow Coma Scale is a neurological scale that determines the conscious state of a person on a scale between three and 15.
“A score of 15 indicates a person is fully aware of their environment and did not suffer from a traumatic brain injury,” Dr. Shahzad described. “A score of 13 or above indicates mild; nine to 12 indicates moderate; and a score of eight or less is a severe traumatic brain injury.” The GCS tests verbal, motor, and eye opening response.
Beyond the GCS, neurologists also diagnose TBI by post traumatic amnesia and loss of consciousness. Those suffering from mild TBI have less than one day of memory loss and lose less than thirty minutes of consciousness; moderate TBI is more than one day of amnesia and loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes; and severe TBI is more than 24 hours of amnesia and loss of consciousness for more than seven days.
While brain injury sounds serious beyond comparison, those suffering from mild and moderate TBI can look forward to recovery. When the brain is inflamed, neurologists determine treatment that reduces swelling. Hypothermic treatment safely decreases body temperature up to 33 degrees and slows the metabolism, thus requiring less oxygen in the brain.
“Teams of neurologists, psychologists, and sometimes psychiatrists work together to come up with the best treatment,” states Dr. Shahzad.
The side effects of TBI are memory loss, less functional speech, personality changes, and possible paralysis. However, victims of mild TBI can look forward to leading productive lives after their injury. With treatment, those suffering from moderate TBI can recover in part, but do suffer lasting psychological, intellectual, and cognitive changes.
The frequency of TBI among young people simply suggests better safety practices. Wearing your seatbelt, while not only the law, provides better safety. Wearing helmets and safety pads while participating in sports helps young athletes keep away from brain injuries. Protecting your brain is as important as any other aspect of health and safety, so make sure to keep a level head when facing TBI and consult a doctor when facing a serious blow to the head.
For more information on Traumatic Brain Injury, call Dr. Saeed Shahzad at the Neurology Center of Southwest Florida at (941) 833-1760.