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Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • Neurological Exam - a detailed exam is important and will bring out evidence of a brain injury
  • Brain imaging with CT scan
  • Brain imaging with MRI
  • Cognitive evaluations

Treatment for TBI
The goal of TBI treatment is to minimize secondary injuries. The initial treatment of a traumatic brain injury begins upon arrival at a hospital. At the hospital a team of medical professionals generally led by the trauma surgeon, will meet the patient. The trauma surgeon, acting as the leader, will direct the team. The trauma staff will initiate resuscitation procedures, monitor the body's vital functions, respond to potential life-threatening changes and coordinate care with other hospital personnel.


While the physicians are assessing the patient and the response to treatment, the trauma nurse is caring for the patient providing resuscitation, stabilization and supportive care. The nurses have the responsibility of coordinating and providing communication within the hospital and with the family.


Once stabilized the patient is transferred to a specialized trauma care unit. Care will be provided by the critical care nursing staff. The nursing staff's responsibility is to assess, monitor and interpret vital physiologic or body functions, notify the physician of changes, repeat assessments at regular intervals and provide information for the family.


Other key staff will also play a role in the care of the patient. The respiratory therapist will help with the initial resuscitation efforts, will provide oxygen therapy and will configure the ventilator settings and will assure proper equipment functioning. In addition, the respiratory therapist will monitor the patients breathing, looking at blood gas results and listening to the lungs.


A social worker will also work with the family after the injury. Like a psychologist, the social worker will prepare the family emotionally and physically to face the ill or disabled patient. The social worker will assist the family in making plans for the duration of recovery, especially if the recovery progresses slowly. The social worker will encourage the family to consider role and responsibility changes while the patient is ill, including changes in finances and family support. The social worker along with a discharge planner will assist the family in discharge planning.


Surgical Treatment
The overall goal of all surgical treatment is to prevent secondary injury by helping to maintain blood flow and oxygen to the brain and minimize swelling and pressure. A pressure measuring device may be in place to monitor responses to treatments and pressures within the brain cavity. If bleeding has occurred (a subdural or epidural hematoma) surgery may be necessary to remove or drain the blood clot. Bleeding vessels or tissue may need to be repaired. In severe cases, if there is extensive swelling and pressure on the brain, a portion of the brain may be removed or the skull may be removed to allow for more space for the living tissue.


At Parker Adventist Hospital, we have skilled neurosurgeons with expertise to choose the right treatment choice based on an individual's needs. We have a specialized intensive care unit where the nursing staff is trained and skilled in giving the best care to the neuroscience patient.

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