General Question

Jeruba's avatar

How long after a head injury can you detect concussion or diagnose other traumatic injury?

Asked by Jeruba (55821points) 3 weeks ago
15 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

And is there a time limit for how soon you have to treat it for it to be effective?

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MrGrimm888's avatar

Potentially immediately.

It really varies, but if someone sustains a head injury, ideally they would be evaluated by a medical doctor as soon as possible.

Suspected head injuries should ideally not move or be moved in case of cervical/neck/spinal injury.

Head injuries are VERY serious.
Please treat the situation as such.

When I was bouncing, one of my guys killed a guy who rushed the door. He ran straight at a very big, capable man. He was pushed backwards back into the parking lot. The officer pushed him HARD, and the guy was super drunk and limp. He hit the back of his head when he fell from the shove.
He was DOA.
That officer was charged with manslaughter. He is still in prison…

I don’t suppose you could share some more details, to help others give appropriate advice.

You can always call an ambulance and have a person decline treatment. That at least gets them looked at by a paramedic.

Intracranial bleeding, or brain swelling need to be ruled out.
Any physical trauma should be treated.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @MrGrimm888, for another thoughtful answer.

I guess I’d better reword my question since it seems to have been misleading.

Let’s say a head injury occurred some time ago: weeks, months. Nothing was done, no medical attention, no examination. Can it still be diagnosed after an interval of time? And how long is that interval?

And if it turns out there is a brain injury, is there a time limit on treatment?

This is doubly concerning because the person has so far refused to see a doctor—or to do various other things that might be needed. Possibly we have a dilemma because some impairment might be compromising their judgment.

The person is an adult and theoretically able to decide for themself.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Copy that.
A dilemma indeed.
Hopefully there are some good suggestions.

I’ll stick it in the think bank. Chew on it…

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba I understood what you meant. I think they can be detected long after by a brain MRI or Pet scan. One of the things that makes e think that is that they figured out that the killer in a mass murder in Maine a year ago had suffered traumatic brain damage when he was in the army years ago. As far as treatment long after the injury, that I don’t know.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree it can be potentially immediately, but I’ll take the time here to tell you about a missed diagnosis. A friend of mine and I were in an accident and we both wound in the ER and then hospitalized. She had a head injury. She had a headache, nauseous, wouldn’t eat, some vertigo, this dragged in for 5 days and then the hospital finally did another CT scan and found a brain bleed! They missed it or couldn’t detect it on her initial scan in the ER. They immediately moved her to ICU.

As far as detecting brain damage long after an injury, she could have an ECG or Pet Scan done to see if her brain function is outside of the norm. I think those would be the tests for brain function? MRI or CT would probably show abnormalities also if some exist or if her skull had been fractured, but those are for structural abnormalities. That’s the way I understand it anyway.

The jelly doctor would obviously know better, and correct me if I am mistaken. Hopefully, he comes to this Q. Also, one of our jellies works in the radiology or similar field, but I don’t remember who.

SnipSnip's avatar

Right away I believe.

zenvelo's avatar

About 20 years ago (when I was in my 40s), I was getting my hearing tested by an audiologist. He noticed instances where I could hear words but not necessarily interpret/distinguish what the word was. He recommended I get an MRI.

The MRI noted what could only be described as an old injury. I said there were occurrences in my 20s where I might have hit my head but had never been checked. But the injury was so old there wasn’t anything tha could be done.

jca2's avatar

My friend’s brother lives in supported housing and has a caseeworker related to head injury/head trauma, which is lifelong. I know he had some issue at birth where he was removed with forceps and the brain matter was coming out of the soft spot, and he has ongoing health problems unrelated to the birth trauma which require the head trauma caseworker.

My guess is it depends on the nature of the head trauma, the person (other health issues which may affect treatment), the quality of their health care and a bunch of other factors which make it very difficult for someone to give a general answer.

Sometimes people come out of a coma or concussion with real personality changes, like changes in temperament, which may last for years.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The recent shooter in Maine was found to have suffered brain injury incurred while an instructor at an Army hand grenade training range.Source

Cupcake's avatar

I’ve had neurological difficulties for almost 2–½ years and recently found evidence of a moderate-to-severe TBI (from COVID, I never hit my head) and other neurological deficits on a qEEG. My regular brain MRI didn’t find anything, but a subsequent one with NeuroQuant did find areas with reduced volume. I am looking into ketamine infusions for neuroplasticity (I’ve done one and it was amazingly effective for a period of time) – treatment options are always on the table but may be more effective earlier on for very specific conditions.

Caravanfan's avatar

It’s usually a clinical diagnosis, that means there are no x-ray findings. So it’s all based upon history and post-concussive syndrome can last a long time.

snowberry's avatar

I have a friend who is a psychiatrist who specializes in diagnosing brain trauma long after the fact. She works with vets so they can get further medical help and accommodations for their condition.

zenvelo's avatar

Recent articles have pointed out that standard medicine my not be treating concussions as well as science has found out:

Caravanfan's avatar


LifeQuestioner's avatar

It makes sense that they could figure it out even a while after the fact. 9 years ago I had a mini stroke and although there were symptoms for a short amount of time, by the time I got to the ER, all of those symptoms had gone away. They were only able to verify that it was a TIA because they did an MRI and a CAT scan. And when they did, they found out that at some point in my past I had had another mini stroke that I hadn’t even been aware of! I figure it must have happened in my sleep so that when I woke up, I was fine and had no idea. But they said it could have been years ago! So they obviously can tell when stuff has happened in the past.

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