If an MRI and a CT scan can’t show a concussion, what can you do to further diagnose and prove it, and develop a treatment plan for it?
There are four different things to go over today.
The first one is neurological testing, done by your doctor, to document any deficits that you may be experiencing. It involves eye tracking, and it tests strength, motor skills, balance, stability, and cognition. Your doctor will basically do a series of different mini tests that will help determine whether you have any deficits that might indicate a concussion.
But that is just a doctor’s opinion, right? So the next three things that I’m going to talk about are actual objective tests that are done by a computer.
VNG — videonystagmography
The first one is VNG. That’s videonystagmography. This involves eye tracking and sounds. It’s designed to test and document a person’s ability to follow visual objects with their eyes and how well that person’s eyes respond to stimuli from the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is in the inner ear and it is responsible for providing the brain with information regarding motion and spatial orientation, balance, and stability. It’s a completely objective test. You can’t fake it. And it shows the deficits that you have and indicates whether or not you have suffered a concussion and what to do about it.
The next test is a SPECT scan. This involves functional brain imaging. Whereas a brain MRI and a head CT scan show just structural anatomy, a SPECT scan shows function. So it’s actually measuring blood flow. And you can see exactly which areas of the brain are healthy, which ones are overactive, and which ones are underactive.
It’s a beautiful picture of your brain and it really helps identify and give credit to the symptoms that you’re experiencing. Again, it helps with the treatment plan and with determining what further actions you can take to help your brain recover.
The fourth one is a DTI scan. That’s diffusion tensor imaging. And this is a beautiful picture as well. Again, it shows function. It shows the brain microstructure. It shows white matter tracts and diffuse axonal injury. Axons are long connecting fibers in the brain.
And when a person suffers a concussion by having their head go back and forth, side to side, as it gets hit by something, those axons are sheared. They’re ripped. And this type of imaging shows where those axons are missing. So you’ll have a normal flow of axons in one place, and then you’ll have an empty space.
These are four different things that can test for and objectively document a concussion and help develop a treatment plan for it. If you have any questions about these tests or anything else concussion-related, please give us a call at 303-688-0944.