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MRIs After a Brain Injury: Why They're Important

brain MRI

Our attorneys at Biren Law Group often feature posts about brain injuries on our blog. As we have discussed, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have tremendous potential for causing severe and life-altering setbacks in the lives of victims and their families. Because much of the human brain remains a mystery to modern science, they are also notorious for their unpredictable effects and outcomes. For example, some of the most unusual aspects of brain injuries include:

  • Victims often experience TBI as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, such as hitting your head on the interior of a vehicle during a car accident. However, concussions and TBI can occur even without any direct impact or visible injury simply as a result of external forces that cause the brain to move rapidly within the skull. This is common in cases of whiplash injuries and among military veterans who experience TBI as a result of explosions, blasts, and heavy artillery.
  • Brain injuries can occur with or without a loss of consciousness. Just because a victim did not lose consciousness, or was not unconscious for very long, does not indicate a lack of injury to the brain.
  • In some cases, the effects of brain injuries may not be apparent for days or weeks following an initial accident.
  • Even when victims feel “fine,” unidentified injuries to the brain, including hemorrhaging, can have severe and fatal consequences.

These few facts show just how serious brain injuries are, how illusive their underlying cause may be, and the importance of prioritizing one’s health and safety following any head injury. One of the best ways to ensure one’s health is to seek immediate medical treatment, during which health care providers will often work to identify the presence and severity of a brain injury, as well as any related and pressing health concerns. To achieve this, in part, they often turn to imaging tests like MRIs.

Brain Injuries & MRIs

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used by radiologists to create pictures of the human body’s anatomy and its physiological processes. MRIs obtain these images by using magnetic fields, gradients, and radio waves. They are not X-rays, and do not use ionizing radiation, which distinguishes them from CT or PET scans, which may also be used when treating brain injury victims.

Although diagnoses for TBI are clinical, meaning they require a comprehensive assessment of a patient’s injury, their symptoms, physical exams, and imaging tests, MRIs can be an important part of that process. For example, MRIs can help doctors as they assess the severity of TBI, evaluate various treatment approaches, monitor victims as they recover, and discuss a prognosis.

Over the years, numerous studies have confirmed the important role MRIs play in treating brain injury victims, and are viewed as part of comprehensive and effective diagnostic, treatment, and monitoring treatment plans. In fact, one study recently published in the Journal of Affected Disorders, found that MRIs administered after a brain injury can help provide critical prognostic information and improve long-term outcomes in patients.

Here are a few important things to note about MRIs and brain injuries:

  • The type of MRI you take is important – The strength of magnetic fields used in MRIs is quantified by the unit of measurement called Tesla (T). For many years the standard strength for MRIs was 1.5 Tesla, and many people still have MRIS using 1.5T machines today. However, modern advancements have created 3 Tesla machines, which produce more powerful magnetic fields and better images that can help identify and document brain injuries which may not show up on 1.5T MRIs. Obtaining a 3T MRI, when possible, can provide greater evidence of your injury, help with your treatment and recovery, and potentially strengthen your personal injury case.
  • MRIs and costs – MRIs, like any other medical service, cost money. In fact, they can cost a lot of money, and stronger 3T MRIs are usually more expensive than 1.5T MRIs. If you have concerns about the costs associated with obtaining these imaging tests, remember that it is an investment in your health and well-being, and that such expenses can help your doctor better identify and treat your injuries. You should also note that you have the right to recover these expenses, as well as any other medical bills and economic / non-economic damages resulting from your injuries, by pursuing a personal injury claim against the negligent party who caused you harm. If medical expenses truly hinder your financial stability, there may be other options. For example, personal injury lawyers often have connections with medical professionals who can provide treatment to accident victims on a lien basis, meaning victims do not have to pay for needed medical care or services up front, and that doctors who work on liens are paid following a settlement or verdict.
  • MRIs are not definitive – While MRIs can certainly provide insight into the nature and severity of traumatic brain injuries, and rule out more severe brain damage, they are by no means definitive. In fact, many brain injuries, especially those classified as mild TBI, don’t show up on MRIs at all. This is why TBI diagnoses are based on a doctor’s overall assessment of victims, including their clinical symptoms.
  • MRIs are commonly used after CT scans – Though MRIs are powerful diagnostic tools, CT scans are often the first test of choice doctors will use to evaluate brain injuries, as they can detect skull fractures and show hemorrhaging (bleeding in the brain) which may pose immediate and serious or even fatal risks. MRIs are commonly used to evaluate persistent or worsening TBI symptoms after the acute period (48 hours or more following an injury).

Having represented numerous brain injury victims throughout the years, our legal team at Biren Law Group has the insight and experience to help clients navigate the medical aspects of their case. This includes helping them obtain the right tests to ensure accurate diagnoses and proper treatment, and ensuring they have the right medical evidence needed to support their claim.

Protecting Your Health and Your Rights After a Brain Injury

If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident involving a head injury, our legal team would like to reiterate the importance of seeking immediate medical attention. Immediate attention and testing can help ensure there are no significant medical emergencies associated with an injury, or prompt needed treatment if there are. Consulting a doctor and undergoing routine tests can also help ensure victims obtain the treatment they need and track their progress and recoveries.

Medical evaluations and imaging tests can also play a vital role in any personal injury case victims may file against parties that negligently caused them harm. By providing evidence of what can be elusive injuries, medical reports and tests help demonstrate, even to laymen, the existence of injuries, their severity, and how they impact the lives of victims. Our attorneys work closely with clients and doctors to ensure we understand the nature of their injuries and their impact on victims’ lives, and that the evidence can be easily explained to defendants or juries when fighting for full compensation.

If you have questions about brain injuries, personal injury law, and whether you may have a potential claim for a financial recovery of your damages, Biren Law Group is readily available to review your case. Contact us anywhere in Southern California for a free consultation.