Do You Need a Brain Scan for a Concussion?
You don’t have to play football to be at risk for concussion. Anyone can develop a concussion — a type of brain injury — after a fall, a car accident, or a blow to the head. While sports like baseball, football, and soccer are common causes of concussion in children and teenagers, it’s important to look for the signs of a concussion after any hit to the head. If possible concussion signs exist, you or your family member may need a brain scan for concussion.
What you need to know about concussions
A concussion happens when you hit your head hard enough that your brain bounces around in your skull. Because a concussion is an injury to the brain, the outside of the head can look visibly undamaged when someone experiences it. Concussions range from mild to severe, and symptoms may not always appear immediately after the injury. You should contact your doctor or your child’s pediatrician after a head injury and seek immediate care if you see symptoms, such as:
- Blurry vision
- Headache that does not improve
- Loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness, weakness, or other signs of poor coordination
- Passing out (loss of consciousness)
- Seizures or convulsions
- Slurring words
Your provider will need to perform a physical exam to help diagnose a concussion. But in some situations, advanced brain imaging may also be useful.
Why brain scans are useful for concussion diagnosis and treatment
Very mild concussions often will not require imaging. But more severe concussions may need brain scans so your doctor can look for signs of serious problems like bleeding or fractures. Often doctors order imaging to rule out brain damage. You may also need imaging if a concussion has caused symptoms that last a week or longer.
- A CT scan is the most common type of brain scan for concussion. This specialized X-ray machine can detect brain bleeds with higher resolution at a quicker speed when time may be of the essence.
- An MRI is frequently used to examine brains with long-lasting concussion symptoms. The imaging can show tiny details of problems such as bruising, microscopic bleeding, and scarring.
- A NeuroQuant MRI may be used to monitor ongoing impacts of a concussion. This type of MRI shows activity in different parts of the brain that may be affected after a severe concussion or repeated concussions.
Your doctor can help you decide if brain imaging is a smart move for your unique situation.
Concussion treatment is important
Recovery from a concussion can take weeks or even months. During this time, you need to rest and refrain from activities that could further damage the brain. Because some people experience different concussion symptoms, you may need targeted therapy to improve your vision, coordination, or balance.
Some patients may also experience something called post-concussive syndrome. These persistent symptoms can last for months and include:
- Fatigue or extreme drowsiness
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Personality changes
If you suspect post-concussion syndrome, it’s even more important to get a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Getting a second concussion while you are still recovering from the first one can be very dangerous. In rare situations, it can cause fatal brain swelling.
Advanced brain imaging can help your doctor assess the best treatment protocol for you or your child after a concussion. With the clarity of a CT scan, MRI scan, or NeuroQuant scan, your doctor can more easily determine when it’s safe to return to normal activities or sports.
American Health Imaging Works With Your Doctor — and You
At American Health Imaging, we specialize in taking the types of brain scans that can help your doctor better understand the severity of your concussion. Using the latest technology, we can easily take the images your doctor needs, then them electronically back to the doctor’s office for a complete diagnosis.
American Health Imaging also makes it easy for you to afford brain scans for a concussion. We accept 99% of health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, and we will work with your insurance provider to determine coverage. Many of our locations offer appointments after hours and on weekends, and with dozens of locations across the Southeast, it’s easy to find a location that’s convenient for you.
Contact us today to request an appointment.