Innovations in Imaging Lead to More Accurate Brain Injury Diagnosis

Recent allegations the NFL kept risks associated with concussions concealed from players brought the mystery of brain injuries into the media's attention. Although the full effects remain elusive, technological innovations are allowing doctors to better diagnose and study these injuries.

New Technologies Used in Brain Imaging

Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, are diagnosed based on a patient's subjective experience. Doctors are guided by a vague definition, told when there is no sign of damage based on standard imaging to look for symptoms like mood changes or confusion. This can result in a lack of diagnosis for many.

Diagnosis is aided with the use of CT scans and MRIs, but new imaging methods may more accurately detect and monitor these injuries. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tracks brain abnormalities by visualizing the brain's white matter. It can "reliably detect and track brain abnormalities in patients with mild traumatic brain injury," according to the National Institute of Health.

A positron emission tomography, or PET scan, may aid in diagnosis. This form of imaging is used to diagnose molecular function and activity like blood flow and generally compliments MRI information.

Radiologists are still researching which test best aids in brain injury diagnosis. However, further study of these injuries will likely result in a more specific diagnosis protocol leading to a higher level of patient care.

How Technology Will Impact Personal Injury Claims

These injuries often occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls and sporting activities. They can lead to life-long impairment of physical, cognitive and psychological functions. With proper diagnosis those injured can seek reimbursement for costs incurred as a result of the injury, including medical expenses and lost wages.

New forms of imaging may add clarity, but a brain injury will never have the same ease of diagnosis as a broken bone. Sorting through potential claims resulting from these difficult situations requires the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.