You can’t change the past or the present, but you can change the future.

Brain Injury: Tests and Diagnosis

What tests are used to diagnose a pediatric brain injury?

The most important brain injury test is the conversation a patient and family has with your healthcare provider. You'll be asked to share things like what happened, how your child felt right after the injury, how does he/she feel now, and/or how does he/she feel currently that is different from before it happened. After this discussion and a thorough history and physical exam, other tests may be ordered for your child or young adult.

Another common way to diagnose brain injury is with neuroimaging techniques. This gives doctors a "picture" of your child's brain to look for evidence of damage. The damage may be evaluated by looking at the blood vessels, structure of different areas and connections, abnormal collections of fluids like blood, and chemical processes in the brain, among other things. These pictures are commonly obtained by using x-rays (CT scan), large magnetic fields (MRI) and/or sound (ultrasound).

In some cases after an injury, the brain begins to undergo unregulated, disorganized electrical activity called a seizure. A test called electroencephalography (EEG) provides a very detailed view of the electrical activity in the brain and tells doctors how it differs from normal activity. This allows your child's care team to diagnose problems, determine if treatment is needed, and assess if that treatment is effective.

Neuropsychological testing

A brain injury often affects how a person thinks and behaves, which is why your child might also undergo a thorough neuropsychological exam at Children's Hospital Colorado. This type of testing will help your child's doctors find out if there are any problems with thinking, learning, talking or processing information. This evaluation includes interviews, observation of behavior and performance on focused tasks to help identify specific functional problems. Learn more about neuropsychological testing at Children's Colorado.

Because a brain injury can possibly disrupt all the other systems of the body, many different kinds of problems may also occur. Therefore, other more specific diagnostic tests may be done to evaluate those issues.

Read about common tests used at the Neuroscience Institute.

Why choose Children's Hospital Colorado for brain injury testing?

Children's Colorado has the most extensive and current selection of brain injury diagnostic programs in the Rocky Mountain region. Our experience in the testing and treatment of brain injury is unmatched in the region.

Our team approach allows us to get a complete picture of your child's health, and then work together to identify the best treatment options. Our team also consists of leading researchers, which allows us to improve and define standards for pediatric brain injury diagnosis and care.

How is a brain injury diagnosed at Children's Colorado?

After reviewing your child's physical exam, patient history, neuroimaging, EEG, psychological evaluation and other tests, the Brain Injury Team will sit down with your family to discuss the best treatment options for your child.

Pediatric experts from the multidisciplinary care team will assess your child's injury from multiple points of view and help you understand how the injury may impact the many different areas of function.