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National Brain Injury Information Center

Brain Injury Diagnosis

Getting a prompt and accurate brain injury diagnosis is important. Symptoms can appear immediately or can develop over time depending on the injury and the person. After an impact or injury to the head, it’s important to get assessed by a medical professional.

What are some common symptoms of a brain injury?

table listing out symptoms of brain injury

This list encompasses the most common symptoms that a brain injury survivor may experience but there are other, more obscure effects that can occur. One of these is called pseudobulbar affect (PBA), which involves involuntary and uncontrollable episodes of laughing and/or crying. Another is spasticity, which involves abnormal muscle tightness due to prolonged muscle contraction.

What is the difference between a brain injury diagnosis and determining injury severity?

Getting a diagnosis and determining injury severity are two different things. In cases where the injury is more severe, it is usually clear from the individual’s symptoms that some type of brain injury has occurred. With severe brain injuries, there is typically a prolonged loss of consciousness and/or the signs of injury appear on neuroimaging tests. In situations where the brain injury is mild or moderate, the symptoms can be more subtle so further assessment is often needed to get a brain injury diagnosis.

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Living with a brain injury can require many different types of resources, strategies, and supports, the range of which can be tremendous. Sign up to join our monthly newsletter, and in addition to receiving news and resources from the brain injury community, we’ll give you a free copy of our guide: What to Expect After Brain Injury. This is guide can help survivors and caregivers navigate life post-injury.

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