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Diagnosing and Treating TBI with Neuropsychology

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

One of the subjects that we frequently discuss in these podcasts is mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). We’ve often referred to neuropsychology as vital to diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injury.

But I don’t think we have ever really defined neuropsychology. Clinical neuropsychology is an applied science that focuses on the behavioral expression of brain dysfunction and studies the relationship between the brain and a person’s behavior.

Scientists in this field have developed neuropsychological tests designed to evaluate various cognitive functions and behaviors dependent on the structural and functional integrity of specific areas of the brain.

In conjunction with these tests, the neuropsychologist will correlate the test findings with the patient’s background information, including academic, vocational, medical, and psychiatric records, to establish a pre-accident baseline level.

With this baseline, the neuropsychologist can understand how the patient’s personality, cognitive functioning, and social and emotional behavior have been altered due to a specific trauma.

This may seem highly complex. Perhaps this example will help explain what a neuropsychologist does.

Imagine John. John is age 23. John was near the top of his high school class and did an equally good job at college. Then John fell and struck his head. John suffered a concussion and loss of consciousness for about a minute.

After the head injury, John developed difficulty concentrating and short-term memory loss. John, who also used to be good at math, found math work at his bookkeeping job to be difficult following the head injury. John has also become depressed and anxious.

A neuropsychologist can test John and determine his current level of functioning. The tests show John’s current ability is less than what would be required for a person to make high grades in high school and college. John’s SAT scores compared with how John performs on similar tests following the injury illustrate how much brain capacity John lost. Even though John can function reasonably well in society, he is not the same person he was before the TBI.

The deficiencies in tests administered by a neuropsychologist point to specific areas in the brain that are no longer functioning at peak levels as before the head injury.

The neuropsychologist can also help John cope with his difficulties. For example, if John is suffering from short-term memory loss. John can be coached to take notes and refer to notes to compensate for short-term memory failures.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com.